How Three Artists Are Using the Top of an L.A. Skyscraper as Their Canvas

A previous project involving robotics by Curime Batliner and Jake Newsum
A previous project involving robotics by Curime Batliner and Jake Newsum
Courtesy the artists

Last year, L.A.-based environmental artist Doron Gazit began installing 500 feet of bright red inflatable tubing in various environmentally imperiled sites all over the world.

"My environmental art is now solely dedicated to bringing attention to devastation happening on our planet," Gazit says. "Every installation begins with a long period of research. I look for areas that are devastated as a result of climate change or misuse of the environment. Then I need to find an accessible spot which could best reflect the issues I am pointing at. After this preparation work, I arrive with a small crew. Setting down the red line can be simple and fast or very tedious, depending on the conditions on the ground and weather. Once the installation is over and well documented, I re-roll the red line for the next project. I make sure to leave no trace."

So far the Red Line Project has been installed at the Salton Sea, the drought-afflicted San Joaquin Valley, a melting iceberg in Alaska and the Dead Sea. In the future, Gazit says he'd like to take the project to "several locations in the Amazon [rain]forest where illegal logging and gold mining is causing tremendous destruction. I am also planning to go to Sumatra and Borneo where the orangutans’ habitat is being destroyed, mostly by fire – to make room for palm oil plantations."

Tonight, at the top of the US Bank tower downtown, Gazit will bring the Red Line Project to L.A. via photos and video monitors. And while his work typically centers around the world's increasingly arid environments, his company Air Dimensional Design is bringing the sea to the sky. "On the 69th-floor terrace we will design an underwater environment in the sky," Gazit says. "Large illuminated organic shapes will create a dreamlike environment." His company previously has done installations for the Olympics and the Super Bowl.

The Red Line Project in AlaskaEXPAND
The Red Line Project in Alaska
Courtesy the artist

While Gazit's inflatables employ relatively simple concepts to convey a big message, artists Curime Batliner and Jake Newsum are incorporating technology, robotics and methods of surveillance into their project to ask the question: What makes us human?

"Saturday's performance is specifically created for the unique location. We really wanted to take advantage of being on the highest structure of the city with its breathtaking views and create a piece where we immerse the public by leveraging our expertise using the city as the catalyst," Batliner says.

Using a robotically controlled telephoto lens positioned outside the US Bank tower, Batliner and Newsum will collect data that will be transformed into visuals attendees can see and appreciate.

"For the duration of the performance, a live feed will reveal data usually invisible to the human eye to the visitor," Batliner says. "Set as an open film location, the audience will be able to join and observe the process of making. The outside performance will be complemented by live visuals mapped at the inside of the building. Mixing video, 3-D scan captures, satellite footage and CCTV cameras of the iconic Wilshire Boulevard, the work superimposes a visual narrative onto the lifeline of the city, which at that very moment will be at the feet of every spectator."

Artopia takes place tonight, Sat., Nov. 5, 8 p.m. (7 p.m. for VIP) at OUE Skyspace, 633 W. Fifth St., downtown; $40, $60 for VIP. Tickets and more info here.


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