Below The Line
01.01.2010, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

view from I-80 exit ramp entering Wendover, UT (shoreline of Lake Bonneville), Jamie Kruse 2009

In the spring of 2010, Friends of the Pleistocene will focus on the Pleistocene Lakes of Utah for a project entitled BELOW THE LINE. For this project we will conduct research and design speculative tools for exploring and dynamically knowing ancient Lake Bonneville.

We are interested in creatively responding to the specific geomorphology of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and the land uses that it makes possible. For example:  Dry Pleistocene lakebeds create flat playas that make convenient bombing ranges and runways. Much military training is sited upon, and facilitated by, landscapes shaped by the Pleistocene.

Military interest in playas has increased in the nuclear and rocket age. The world’s first atomic detonation, Trinity, occurred along the shoreline of a Pleistocene lake and modern playa near San Antonio, New Mexico. The bomber crew of the Enola Gay, the Hiroshima delivery B-29, trained at Wendover, Utah, adjacent to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Frenchman Flat and Yucca Flat are playas at the Nevada Test Site and were ground zero for several early above-ground atomic tests. Lop Nor, the site of some Chinese nuclear testing, is also a playa. Rocket testing at the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico routinely involves flights of Pleistocene Lakes Otero and Trinity, adjacent playas, and sometimes into targets located on several other lakebeds“- From Military Geology in War and Peace, 1998

We will collect artifacts, design and make poetic objects, and produce graphic communication (newsprints, booklets, field guides, diary-maps).  We will offer these as speculative tools for exploring and generating dynamic ways of knowing how Pleistocene landscapes and materials shape daily human life and experiences in the present, in the deep past and in possible deep futures. Friends of the Pleistocene will invite audiences to creatively appropriate these tools.

Our project will take place at the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s Wendover Complex on the Utah-Nevada border. We will use the journey form to explore and creatively respond to what happens when humans go out into the landscapes of Lake Bonneville prepared to greet the Pleistocene in/from 2010.  We will travel the geologic lake line from Wendover to Bonneville salt flats, Utah Lake, Oquirrh Mountains, Sevier Lake, and Antelope Island. As we trace the ancient lake’s strandline, we will study, document, and creatively respond to how humans have used Pleistocene-shaped landforms and environments.

3 Comments so far
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We assume to know why the military chooses the desert for its maneuvers: out of bounds, out of sight, but why specifically the flatland? Is it related to the modern architect’s assumption of tabula rasa? To better measure the trajectory of payload?
Thank you for questioning the playa, looking forward to the unravel.

Comment by Jarrod Beck

[…] FOP’s studio/workspace in Red Hook, Brooklyn (183 Lorrainne Street, 3rd Flr., #37) will be open to the public during OPEN STUDIO weekend May 1 – 2, 2010.  You can stop by and see what we have been up to the past year and learn more about upcoming field-project, BELOW THE LINE. […]

Pingback by FOP POP-UP CENTER MAY 1-2, 2010 « Friends of the Pleistocene

[…] week we’ll embark on the first of our summer projects. Below the Line is a two week field-based research trip.  We will follow the ancient shorelines of Pleistocene […]

Pingback by Descending Below the Line PART I « Friends of the Pleistocene

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