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David L. Ulin

Day and Night

From Michael Light's "LA Day/LA Night"

Twenty-five years or so ago, when I first started coming to Los Angeles on a regular basis, I used to stay with a friend who had a satellite’s eye view poster of the city in his breakfast room. It was then — and remains, I think — a vivid metaphor. Not for the sprawl of Southern California, although you can certainly see it there, but rather for the odd tension of the built environment, which can only push the natural landscape so far. If sprawl is an expression of our attempts to control our surroundings, the satellite photo reveals just how limited, how temporary, such interventions are. There is the basin and the San Fernando Valley, full of the flat gray outline of the city. And then there are the mountains and the desert, undeveloped and unforgiving, ringing it all in. Continue reading

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