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© 2020 Steve Rowell
From 2001 - 2008 I worked on every CLUI project, exhibition, publication, and tour. While living abroad and elsewhere in the US, from 2007-2014, my focus shifted to other parts of the world and with a more overt role as artist-activist, and I contributed to only a select number of projects. Some of these collaborations are summarized here, on my website. In many cases, I link back to the CLUI website for greater detail of each work. Having moved back to Los Angeles in 2014, my collaborative efforts with the CLUI has been focused, once again, on radio experiments and sonic boom feedback loops with the Mojave Desert at the Desert Research Station.
What some people say about the CLUI
They are far less interested in producing art objects than in providing an experience of the world through a scientifically based aesthetic language of symmetries and disharmonies, tones and shades, concreteness and abstraction. Like the earth artist Robert Smithson, they locate the poetry of dissolution in geology. Unlike him, they don’t physically shape the land itself, but shape the way you think about it. Through their art-as-science, or science-as-art, you make the environment, natural and constructed, your own without owning it.
– Holland Cotter, The New York Times
Everybody likes or finds some places interesting, but CLUI makes every place interesting. For those of us who wander around ordinary neighborhoods with our eyes peeled for the sublime and the ridiculous, who writhe with curiosity as we fly over unidentified terrain, who consistently take our eyes off the road, endangering life and limb to read a sign we’re passing at 75 mph, CLUI delivers the goods. The Center tells us more we ever thought we wanted to know about places we thought we would never even recognize, much less pore over and analyze in CLUI’s bizarrely bland but thought-provoking style. The arcane becomes the ordinary, and vice versa. I like the Center’s researches/activities for all of the above reasons, because of its insatiable thirst for knowledge, because of its unpredictable choice of subject, and its casual, often humorous, fusion of geography and art. But most of all I like it because it sends me back to my own surroundings with heightened interest. And the more I know about what’s going on around me, the more I’m likely to act on behalf of the local.
– Lucy R. Lippard, writer
I would like to posit that The Center for Land Use Interpretation can be seen as the Andy Warhol in the field of geography...Clearly the polar opposite in terms of a relationship to glamour (Warhol was obsessed with celebrites; CLUI is obsessed with landfills, airstrips, and freeway on-ramps), they both retain a dry form of pointing as methodology. Acting as a facilitator, each artist simply points to the phenomena that condition our lives. While Warhol dryly points at Marilyn Monroe, CLUI points to a water-treatment plant. Warhol wasn’t explaining what these images mean so much as placing a mirror in front of the viewer and implying, “This is who we are.” We are these images. It is not that we simply watch television, but that we take the phenomena around us into our ourselves. We become what we experience. The same can be said of CLUI, which points toward the geologic and urban conditions around us and indicates that these forces produce our sense of self.
– Nato Thompson, chief curator, Creative Time