Centre for the Living Arts


Mario Ybarra Jr.

Mario Ybarra Jr.’s Barrio Aesthetics, 
The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project, organized by LAND

The Main Gallery features Mario Ybarra Jr.’s installation titled Barrio Aesthetics, recontextualizing his billboards from The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project, organized by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division).

The LAND series of artist-produced billboards and activations unfolds along Interstate 10 Freeway from Florida to California through spring 2015. Ten artists were each commissioned to create ten billboards or “chapter” groupings along I-10, each a unique interpretive link to the project’s thematic. The billboards will move through and punctuate the landscape by tracing territorial expansion from east to west, along one of the country’s busiest freeways, and will conclude in Los Angeles. More information about LAND can be found at: http://nomadicdivision.org.

Ybarra’s billboards, displayed in both Mobile and Baldwin counties since January 2014, are exhibited in PRE-GLO. In addition, some of the billboard’s components are installed as sculptural objects. As an extension of the installation, the artist also plans to lead workshops.

Ybarra is a visual and performance artist, educator and activist who combines street culture with fine art to produce site-specific urban interventions that often bring to light little-known aspects of a particular location’s cultural history.  Ybarra’s chapter of The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project uses source material from the artist’s ongoing collection of images of what he calls “barrio aesthetics” in Los Angeles. Ybarra is interested in inserting the daily culture and experience of one city and neighborhood into another, showing similarities and differences.


LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) is a non-profit public art organization committed to curating site- and situation-specific contemporary art projects in Los Angeles and beyond. LAND believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to experience innovative contemporary art in their day-to-day lives. In turn, artist deserve the opportunity to realize projects, otherwise unsupported, at unique sites in the public realm.

Tom Leeser

Global Futures: Pre-Glo

The Video Gallery features Global Futures: Pre-Glo, an immersive environment curated by Tom Leeser of the Center for Integrated Media at CalArts. This installation of sound and video blends the Centre’s upcoming theme of globalism with its previous video exhibit, Future Tense- Futures Project. The two themes intersect at the point of representation, a “global futurism” seen through a lens of technologically driven data visualizations and the ever-expanding reach of global communication.

This communication is evidenced by data visualizations from the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University and its director, Laura Kurgan. For the exhibit, selections of the Lab’s visual work are projected onto the Centre’s video gallery walls. This is accompanied by wall text that describes each project.

The Lab’s complex and compelling data visualizations are contrasted with sound art from four international artists who use electronic music, spoken word and field recordings gathered from around the world. Stephanie Cheng Smith’s  composition, “Space Elevator Voyage- Movement,” can be heard throughout the video gallery.  Also included in the exhibit is her haunting and mysterious field recording of a ship at sea.  Tom Leeser captured the sound of Nepalis and Tibetans performing chants while doing “kora,” a daily walking ritual done around the holy temple, Boudhanath Stupa, in Kathmandu. Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir’s exhibits recordings of Icelandic folk poems and Henry Schroy contributed a Brazilian drumming performance from Rio de Janeiro. There are four listening stations in the video gallery, each positioned as “cardinal points,” representing the four compass positions of east, west, north and south.

Global Futures: Pre-Glo is immersive, yet it provides enough space for the viewer to experience a critical distance, addressing the paradox of scale within the current global condition. The Spatial Information Design Lab’s projections appear as a visual representation of the enormity of publicly gathered global data while the sound art, heard  through the four listening stations,  functions as an isolated and private refuge.

Spatial Information Design Lab


The Spatial Information Design Lab is a think- and action-tank at Columbia University specializing in the visual display of spatial information about contemporary cities and events. The lab works with data about space — numeric data combined with narratives and images to design compelling visual presentations about our world today. The projects in the lab focus on linking social data with geography to help researchers and advocates communicate information clearly, responsibly, and provocatively. They work with survey and census data, Global Positioning System information, maps, high- and low-resolution satellite imagery, analytic graphics, photographs and drawings, along with narratives and qualitative interpretations, to produce images.

Design, here, is less like a tool and more like a language, a practice that shapes the outcomes and understandings of the things we do. It is not simply an aesthetic prejudice. The ways in which we present ideas and information can sometimes be even more important than the material itself, for better, or more commonly, for worse. The words and pictures we choose make a difference to the way people, including us, imagine their own possibilities of responding to what we say and do.

Spatial Information Design Lab, Columbia University
Laura Kurgan, Director

Sound Artists:

Kristín Pora Haraldsdottir
Henry Schroy
Stephanie Cheng Smith
Tom Leeser


Tom Leeser

Video Editing/Media Supervision:

Raphael Arar

Segments from the projects below by Spatial Information Design Lab are on view in the CLA Video Gallery.

Terre Natale: Exits Part 2


13  Sifter F

Laura Kurgan collaborated with Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin on Exits: a project in two parts, a multi-media installation which was on view at the Cartier Foundation in Paris, France from November 2008 – March 2009 as part of “Elsewhere starts here,” conceptualized by Paul Virilio. The project was part of a larger exhibition, Terre Natale: Stop Eject.

Global populations are unstable and on the move. Unprecedented numbers of migrants are leaving their countries for economic, political and environmental reasons. Exits, a project in two parts, was created to quantify and display this increasing global trend.

The second part immersed the viewer in a dynamic presentation of data documenting contemporary human movement. Statistics documenting population shifts are not always neutral and the multiple efforts to collect them are decentralized and incomplete. Here the data was repurposed to build a narrative about global migration and its causes. The viewer entered a circular room in the Cartier Foundation and was surrounded by a panoramic video projection of a globe which rolled around the room printing maps as it spun. The maps were made from data which was collected from a variety of sources, geogoded, statistically analyzed, re-processed through multiple programming languages and translated visually. The presentation was divided into narratives concerning population shifts, remittances, political refugees, natural disaster and sea-level rise.

In collaboration with Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, Jeremy Linzee, Robert Gerard Pietrusko, Stewart Smith, Aaron Meyers, Michael Doherty, and Hans-Christoph Steiner.

Port to Port



Research Associates: Juan Francisco Saldarriaga, Annelie Berner

90% of all goods worldwide are moved by ship, but shipping is mostly invisible. More than 300 million Metric Tons of energy are shipped in and out of the United States each year in 60,000 shipments. This project presents the ports and paths of the 2.7 billion Metric Tons of energy shipped through more than 90 US ports from 2002 – 2012.

Million Dollar Blocks



Project Directors: Eric Cadora(JMC), Laura Kurgan
Research Associates: Sarah Williams, David Reinfurt

Publications: PDF, Architecture and Justice, PDF, Scenario Planning Workshop, PDF, The Pattern Justice Mapping Center, JFA Institute

The United States currently has more than 2 million people locked up in jails and prisons. A disproportionate number of them come from a very few neighborhoods in the country’s biggest cities. In many places the concentration is so dense that states are spending in excess of a million dollars a year to incarcerate the residents of single city blocks. When these people are released and re-enter their communities, roughly forty percent do not stay more than three years before they are reincarcerated.

Using rarely accessible data from the criminal justice system, the Spatial Information Design Lab and the Justice Mapping Center have created maps of these “million dollar blocks” and of the city-prison-city-prison migration flow for five of the nation’s cities. The maps suggest that the criminal justice system has become the predominant government institution in these communities and that public investment in this system has resulted in significant costs to other elements of our civic infrastructure — education, housing, health, and family. Prisons and jails form the distant exostructure of many American cities today.

The project continues to present ongoing work on criminal justice statistics to make visible the geography of incarceration and return in New York, Phoenix, New Orleans, and Wichita, prompting new ways of understanding the spatial dimension of an area of public policy with profound implications for American cities. The CLA Video Gallery displays the project mapping of Brooklyn, New York.

Million Dollar Blocks is the first of a series of projects to be undertaken by SIDL, as part of a two year research and development project on Graphical Innovation in Justice Mapping. The project, generously supported by the JEHT Foundation and by the Open Society Institute, activates a partnership between the Justice

Mapping Center (JMC), the JFA Institute (JFA), and the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation (GSAPP).

This unique partnership enables the Justice Mapping Center to refine analytical and graphical techniques within the research and teaching environment of the Spatial Information Design Lab, which can then be applied to real life policy initiatives through work with the JFA Institute. Reciprocally, input from state and local leaders is then brought back to the Design Lab for further development. This feedback loop is a valuable tool resulting in new methods of spatial analyses and ways of visually presenting them that reveal previously unseen dimensions of criminal justice and related government policies in states across the United States.


Allan Sekula

Sekula, (1951 -2013) a renowned American photographer whose work, which often depicted labor within the workplace, focused on the consequences of economic changes arising from globalization.

The Black Tide series was the result of the 2002 oil spill off of the coast of Galicia, in northwest Spain. A tanker carrying over of 20 million gallons of oil split in half, creating one of the worst environmental disasters of the century. Sekula’s photographs place emphasis on the coastal landscape, the invading oil, and the efforts of the volunteers who battle what he referred to as the “black tide.”

Sekula subtitled the piece Fragments for an Opera. He wrote accompanying text to Black Tide, recreating the event 30 years into the future, and demonstrating the gap between the politically-elite right wing Spanish ruling party and the scores of volunteers who actually dealt with the disaster.

The works in PRE-GLO were generously loaned by the Allan Sekula Estate and the Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.

Sekula’s work is found in the collections of such institutions as the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, Museo de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Tate, London, UK; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.

The Forgotten Space by Allan Sekula


The feature length film, The Forgotten Space, follows container cargo aboard ships, barges, trains and trucks, listening to workers, engineers, planners, politicians, and those marginalized by the global transport system. We visit displaced farmers and villagers in Holland and Belgium, underpaid truck drivers in Los Angeles, seafarers aboard mega-ships shuttling between Asia and Europe, and factory workers in China, whose low wages are the fragile key to the whole puzzle. And in Bilbao, we discover the most sophisticated expression of the belief that the maritime economy, and the sea itself, is somehow obsolete.