Lewis Baltz, Three Photographs from the Series “Park City”, (1980)

 While Lewis Baltz is perhaps best known for his New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California series, Park City might be a better candidate as the magnum opus of the artist’s early work. Not merely representative of the stylistic and conceptual framework of the photographic movement he helped to define, Park City is the single most exhaustive and far-reaching visual criticism of 1970s-era American real estate development: the series is thus the New Topographics document par excellence. The series’ 102 plates (Baltz defines the Series as “a sequential work of 102 elements”) first take the viewer through overall site views that set up a jarring contrast between the mountains (already carved up for the ski area) and the freshly built condominiums and houses that soon will take over the landscape.

shopping for old homes makes me so sad because when they’re renovated, whoever did it just killed off all of the character

these victorians with their clearly defined rooms are just gutted and opened up with a few columns here and there… and finished to look just like any old suburban tract home inside.

Old brick fireplaces are redone with sterile, modern tile… There are new, boring maple cabinets, neutral granite, new carpet…. everything is some kind of beige and in the transitional “style.” it could be any house. There’s nothing left that speaks to the specific history or location of the house…

it’s like they’ve lost their souls :(


TSH Series:

Plano. The word conjures up drive-ins, tract homes, waves of heat rising from the blacktop. My years there created for me an expendable past, disposable as a plastic cup. Which I suppose was a very great gift, in a way. On leaving home I was able to fabricate a new and far more satisfying history, full of striking, simplistic environmental influences; a colorful past, easily accessible to strangers. The dazzle of this fictive childhood—full of swimming pools and orange groves and dissolute, charming show-biz parents—has all but eclipsed the drab original. In fact, when I think about my real childhood I am unable to recall much about it at all except a sad jumble of objects: the sneakers I wore year-round; coloring books and comics from the supermarket and the squashed old football I contributed to neighborhood games; little of interest, less of beauty. I was quiet, tall for my age, prone to freckles. I didn’t have many friends but whether this was due to choice or circumstance I do not now know. I did well in school, it seems, but not exceptionally well. My clothes were cheap and my haircut too short and no one at school seemed to like me that much; and since all this had been true for as long as I could remember, I felt things would doubtless continue in this depressing vein as far as I could foresee. In short: I felt my existence was tainted, in some subtle but essential way.


When you think of tract homes, you think of houses that look the same: the same color scheme, the same style; homes that form two uninteresting walls on either side of a suburban street. That might be the case today, but nearly 60 years ago — at a time when “real” architects wouldn’t touch tract homes — one architect did everything he could to break the monotony. His name is William Krisel, and he’s being honored by a place whose look he helped define — Palm Springs, Calif.

The minute you see Krisel’s homes, you’re taken back to another era. They have distinctive angled roofs, high windows and desert color schemes with pops of rich gold or vibrant blue. They also have lots of glass and elegantly simple lines, a signature of all the houses in the city’s Twin Palms tract neighborhood. One of those homes belongs to Heidi Creighton, and she knows just what she has. She says it’s “a Krisel-designed home, and it would be classified as a Model A-3 sunflap flat-roof tract house.”

Meet The Architect Who Helped Bring Modernism To The Masses

Photos: Darren Bradley/Courtesy of Darren Bradley

“Eighty percent of everything ever built in America has been built in the last fifty years, and most of it is depressing, brutal, ugly, unhealthy and spiritually degrading–the jive-plastic commuter tract home wastelands, the Potemkin village shopping plazas with their vast parking lagoons, the Lego block hotel complexes, the ‘gourmet mansardic’ junk-food joints, the Orwellian office ‘parks’ featuring buildings sheathed in the same reflective glass as the sunglasses worn by chain-gang guards, the particle-board garden apartments rising up in every meadow and cornfield, the freeway loops around every big and little city with their clusters of discount merchandise marts, the whole destructive, wasteful, toxic, agoraphobia-inducing spectacle that politicians proudly call ‘growth.’”

– James Howard Kunstler, Geography of Nowhere, 1993, p.10


Yayoi Kusama

Give Me Love

Obliteration Room

Every Yayoi show here at Zwirner is epic. So cool that they brought the Obliteration room from Australia to NYC. Day one, and the white walls of the suburban tract home are already getting covered with dots. The staff is a little controlling in the process, but such a cool and fun execution of her work. I feel like she is so much of a better conceptual artist than an executional artist. This show rocks. Bring your kids, they’ll have a blast! Through June 13th 2015.

It’s time for a tummy tour, courtesy of the Museum exhibition The Secret World Inside You! Your digestive tract is home to around 100 trillion bacteria—more than all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and 99% of your body’s microbes. Let’s dive in:

Esophagus: Food drops quickly from your mouth to your stomach, with very little role for bacteria in this area. 

Stomach: Almost no nutrients are absorbed in the stomach. It is filled with harsh acids that kill most bacteria. Very few live here permanently and most digestion happens farther down the digestive tract. 

Small intestine: At about 20 feet (6 meters) long, most of your food is digested here! Sugar, fat, and protein are broken down and absorbed with the help of bacteria. 

Large intestine: Trillions of microbes ferment fibers and other foods you can’t digest in this area, frequently for 40 hours. This produces useful nutrients and protects your gut lining from inflammation. 

Appendix: This mysterious bulge may be a safe haven where bacteria can hide out. If diarrhea, disease or antibiotics sweep useful bacteria out of the intestines, this reservoir can help them grow back.

Learn much more about your microbiome in the exhibition, The Secret World Inside You, now open. 

Be Thankful For Your Microbiome

Happy Thanksgiving from the American Museum of Natural History! This year, we’re thankful for our microbiome, which is particularly helpful in digesting the traditional holiday feast many of us will be enjoying today. 

Millions of microbes enter your body at every meal. Indeed, after your skin, the digestive system is the main place where your body comes in contact with microbes. But unlike your skin, your digestive system is a warm, sheltered space—and it’s filled with food. It’s the perfect spot for microbes. So it’s no surprise that the vast majority of your body’s microbiome is inside your digestive tract. Your digestive tract is home to around 100 trillion bacteria—more than all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Many fibers from food, including cellulose, cannot be digested by the human body alone—but resident bacteria produce enzymes that can break them down. 

Almost no nutrients are absorbed in the stomach. It is filled with harsh acids that kill most bacteria. Very few live here permanently.

Small intestine
Your small intestine is about 20 feet (6 meters) long. Most of your food is digested in your small intestine. Sugar, fat and protein are broken down and absorbed, with the help bacteria.

Large intestine
Your large intestine is where fibers ferment, frequently for 40 hours. Trillions of microbes ferment fiber and other food you can’t digest, producing useful nutrients and protecting your gut lining from inflammation.

Microbes in your gut play many important roles in your body. They help with digestion, immune regulation, disease prevention, healing and protecting your gut lining, appetite control, brain development and even emotion.

Learn more about your microbiome in The Secret World Inside You, now open at the Museum!

“What is a scumbag, though? Are they born or made? It’s now clear that Better Call Saul is, like Breaking Bad, a great meditation on the nature of wrongdoing, which incidentally is much the same question pondered by basically all great religions and philosophers. The Albuquerque (and, sometimes, Chicago) of Gilligan and Gould’s imagination bustles with normal-seeming individuals somewhere in the process of breaking bad. Under the crummy surfaces of strip malls and tract homes, accountants, teachers, veterinarians, parking attendant, cops, and lawyers are all playing the angles. For many of these folks, morality isn’t quite black and white; instead, it’s invisible, unconsidered, something whose bounds are transgressed in dumb fumbling.”
– The Moral Message in Better Call Saul’s First Season by Spencer Kornhaber

Zoom inside your microbiome with the Museum’s exhibition The Secret World Inside You.

Your digestive tract is home to around 100 trillion bacteria—more than all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The stomach hosts very few microbes, however. The majority of those trillions of microbes are housed in the large intestine, where food ferments after digestion.

Visit The Secret World Inside You to learn more.