Author: Nora Leon, Frederick Fisher and Partners
A bus filled with members of FF&P’s Los Angeles office trekked off to Desert X to check out the sprawling outdoor art biennial held in California’s Coachella Valley. The bus stopped at several site-specific installations scattered across the desert and Salton Sea.
The first installation was Specter by American artist Sterling Ruby. The fluorescent orange box contrasts the desert landscape while relating in scale to man-made elements often experienced in the desert, like a shipping container, train or RV.
Next stop, Dive-In, by the Danish collective SUPERFLEX. Dive-In’s pink color is derived from Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s preferred palette, as seen in their coral-filled home at Sunnylands (where FF&P designed the Sunnylands Visitor Center). The piece’s rough texture acknowledges the fossilized marine life that is scattered across the region and explores themes of global warming and rising water levels. The artists imagine that the piece may also be enjoyed by marine life when it is one day submerged by rising waters.
After Dive-In, the bus unloaded at A Point of View, by Bogotá-born/Paris-based artist Ivan Argote. The composition of staircases overlooking the Salton Sea function as sundials. Engraved messages on the concrete steps depict fragmented messages that relate to the temporal fragmentation of the sundials.
Lastly, FF&P experienced the digital work by Nancy Baker titled Margin of Error. This piece uses augmented reality to comment on “the toxic outcome of human progress leading to an environmental disaster” sited at the shrinking Salton Sea. The installations all bring attention to the valley's environment through careful siting and attention to user experience. The display of works by emerging artists all touch on global warming and how design can enact change. Freshly inspired by a long day of research, the bus departed the Salton Sea filled with inspiration to return to work at FF&P!