Urban Rhythms : Los Angeles ; Spatial / Social

Los Angeles, “Capital of the Third World” as the title of David Rieff’s 1991 book provocatively proclaims. The city that decades ago represented the epitome of the American dream is now to many an urban nightmare from which even the best of navigational devices and Apps provide little relief. It is indeed an enigma as most conventional or historical benchmarks offer few templates though which to understand one of the most diverse cities in the world.

The similarities with a “Third World” metropolis are quite real from some points of view such as the increasing stratification and polarization of wealth, the flow of migrant labor, an absence of visual literacy in the architectural vernacular and an apparent lack of a cohesive urban plan to counter the sprawl. However, many other aspects such as its creative, entertainment and tech industries firmly root it as one of the most progressive cities in the developed world.

Vantage points through which to gain a true measure of Los Angeles maybe hard to come by. LA’s image is played out and defined more through the cinema than any other experiential media. Although a city of diverse culture, the movies do serve to build the myths while the industrial nature and dimension of the city remains somewhat in the shadow. There are no shortages of quotes that offer insightful perspectives on the city. Barbara Kruger eloquently said, “If most American cities are about the consumption of culture, Los Angeles and New York are about the production of culture, not only national culture but global culture”. Quentin Crisp offers the succinct observation that “Los Angeles is just New York lying down” while Frank Lloyd Wright offers both acuity and humor in his quote “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles”.

Two characteristics that strongly define the city’s unique identity are it’s spatial and social dimensions. Utilizing the compositional and graphic possibilities of photography to reflect these characteristics, this documentary is a visceral journey amongst an ever growing and changing megalopolis. In LA and its “Third World” counterparts, the scale of urbanization seems to evolve without particular concern for the notion that human sensibilities were informed or programmed long ago and don’t seem to evolve as fast as our cities do or our developers wish.

Coming into Los Angeles
Hollywood Freeway
Hollywood
Hollywood, Capital Records Building, 1956, Welton Becket Architect
West Hollywood
Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood
Downtown freight terminal
Downtown. US Bank Tower (left), Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, 1989 & Aon Center (middle), C. Luckman, 1973
The Disney Hall, Frank Gehry, 2003, Downtown
The Disney Hall, Frank Gehry, 2003, Downtown
The Disney Hall, Frank Gehry, 2003, Downtown
Department of Water and Power (John Ferraro Building), Albert C. Martin and Associates, 1965, Downtown
Department of Water and Power (John Ferraro Building), Albert C. Martin and Associates, 1965, Downtown
The Broad Museum, Under Construction, Diller Scofidio & Renfro Architects, Downtown
Angel City Brewery, 'Wrinkles in the City' Mural by French street artist JR. A project depicting real people of Los Angeles
Downtown
Our Lady Of DTLA by artist Robert Vargas, Downtown
Party store, Downtown
Warehouses, Vernon
Warehouse, Vernon
Farmer John's Slaughter House, Vernon
Farmer John's Slaughter House, Vernon
Slauson Boulevard
Market and liquor store, Slauson Boulevard
Market and liquor store, Slauson Boulevard
Crenshaw Boulevard
Alvarado Boulevard
'Wrinkles in the City' Mural by French street artist JR, Alvarado Boulevard. A project depicting real people of Los Angeles
Los Angeles River.
American Cement Building 1964, DMJM Architects, Wilshire Boulevard
Westlake Theatre, 1926, Richard D. Bates Jr. Architect, MacArthur Park, Wilshire and Alvarado Boulevard
'La Señora de La Muerte' Liquor store mural by El Mac, corner of Santa Monica and Normandie Boulevard
'La Señora de La Muerte' Liquor store mural by El Mac, corner of Santa Monica and Normandie Boulevard
Oil wells near LAX (Los Angeles International Airport)
Los Angeles International Airport, Theme Building, Pereira & Luckman Architects & Welton Becket, 1961
Freeway
Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange, 105 & 110 Freeways, South Central Los Angeles.
San Onofre Nuclear Power Station
Long Beach / San Pedro Container Port
Long Beach / San Pedro Container Port
Long Beach / San Pedro Container Port
Suburbs, Orange County
Orange County
Dockweiler State Beach
LAX / Dockweiler State Beach
Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Pier
Venice Beach
Venice Beach
Lincoln Boulevard
Lincoln Boulevard
Lincoln Boulevard
Lincoln Boulevard
Police helicopter
Lincoln Boulevard
Looking east
All images © Shaun Fynn