This is an exercise in aerial land use interpretation. Sitting by the window and reading the landscape from the air – what can be deciphered? On this flight from Philadelphia to Detroit, we fly over Lake Erie and the Canadian island of Panton-le-Fou, Ontario. Centuries of European settlement have impacted the landscape below – from the buildings and roads to the fencerows and agricultural land patterns – and provide clues to the astute observer as to what happens here. What do you see what you read this island?

Was the Interstate created by dinosaurs? Whereas the anthropocene is a proposed geological period defined by the fact that the earth’s systems are now fundamentally determined by human activity; and whereas the United States Interstate Highway System is considered one of the great engineering marvels of the twentieth century; and whereas dinosaurs roamed the Earth thousands of years ago; and whereas Melvin McNally is an adjunct instructor of landscape urbanism at Grand Junction Bible College. In this passionate sermon of fevered intensity, Instructor McNally argues that the alignment of the highway system can be traced directly to the beasts of our prehistory. [sic]

It sounds like the prologue to a dusty paperback science fiction novel from the late 1950s. But broken down step by step, it seems reasonable. Foregrounded in acknowledgment of the Anthropocene age (the period of history where human activity is the strongest force affecting planetary ecosystems and geology), it questions whether we’re really writing our own novel, or instead cribbing notes from a story told long, long ago. – Landscape Architecture Magazine

Runner-up: Not In My Backyard, 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture, Canberra, Australia. October 2016

This is Iceland at the speed of sound (768 mph): a time-lapse circumnavigation via the Hringvegur (Ring Road) that circles the island.

Iceland – the Nordic island country in the North Atlantic – is one of the most volcanically and geologically active places on Earth. This small European country has been described as if “someone put the American West in a blender: California’s poetic central coast, the Nevada desert’s barren expanses, Alaska’s glaciers and Yellowstone’s geysers”. The 828 mile (1,333 kilometer) long Ring Road (Route 1) that encircles the island and traverses these dynamic landscapes, has been characterized as “the ultimate road trip”.

Starting in Reykjavík, we travelled east across the lava fields along the North Atlantic and views of Vatnajökull glacier to Höfn; then heading north by northwest in a foggy darkness along fjords and blind curves. Twisting over the mountains (where a flat tire did not stop us), we crossed the inland gravel fields of Iceland’s desert interior to Akureyri; then west through alpine mountains, lava fields and fjords along the Norwegian Sea, and then through Hvalfjörður Tunnel back to Reykjavík.

Hringvegur was funded via a Kickstarter campaign during World Landscape Architecture Month 2015, and runs 70 minutes in length.

Continue reading

This is a time-lapsed circumnavigation of Los Angeles. From downtown to the eastside; down along the Alameda corridor to Long Beach and the Port; up to LAX, through the Sepulveda Pass and into the San Fernando Valley; along the Verdugo Mountains and down the Glendale Freeway and past Dodger Stadium; down and around and back again to downtown – 120 miles in 2 hours. An iteration of this video was commissioned by the A+D Museum, Los Angeles, as part of the “Come In! S,M,L,XLA” group installation (19 June – 14 September 2014) – an exhibition of spatial interventions reflecting on the inquiry of scale. The audio commentary and q/a is from the world premiere screening of From Sea To Shining Sea and is courtesy the National Building Museum who hosted the event on 6 April 2014.

Evan Mather’s video is a playful and polished drive-by, quick and audience-friendly — a fitting analogy for the exhibit and its featured group of young designers. The exhibit uses dutch architect Rem Koolhaas’ 1995 book, S, M, L, XL, as its thematic prompt, asking them to explore issues of scales and sizes … – LA Weekly

This is a coast-to-coast drive across the United States:
Four interstates, two turnpikes and a highway.
Two bays, three mountain ranges and a divide.
Eleven states, twenty-two ecoregions, seven metropolises and eight state capitals.
Five days, four time zones and a continent.
From sea level to eleven-thousand feet and back again.
From the original colonies to their manifest destiny.
This is a contemporary portrait of the American landscape.

From Sea To Shining Sea is a contemporary portrait of the United States of America experienced via a cross-county time-lapse video and audio collage. This incredible landscape diversity – through twenty-two eco-regions from the Atlantic, over the Rockies, and to the Pacific – is united by a common visual element: the Interstate Highway System. By watching the film, one essentially takes the journey itself, and gains a greater appreciation for the sheer beauty of the American landscape.

Olympic & Western is a manifesto on the proper usage of type in the built environment. Tightly adapted from a mysterious analog audio tape found on the side of the road, this video mash-up meshes infrastructural convergences and reveals intuitive paradigms by using the city of Los Angeles as a testbed for seizing urbanistic ecologies, curating front-end ecosystems, cultivating emergent methodologies, and revealing the link between street signage graphic design and the JFK assassination.

39-A: Een Reisverhaal Van Eindeloos (A Travel Tale Of Interminable) is an experimental film that challenges and subverts the typical elements of documentaries, thus making us all reflect upon important questions in documentary filmmaking such as What material can be trusted, can the voice-over narrator be trusted, where does documentary end and fiction start? Besides these questions, that the film raises, it has managed to convince the jury by it’s unusual and alienating collage of super 8 footage, by its investigative style and suspense. The film is putting audiences continuously on the wrong track yet consistently intriguing, leaving the viewer bewildred and pensive. Through its hybrid form, 39-A: Een Reisverhaal Van Eindeloos (A Travel Tale Of Interminable) is showing inventive ways of dealing with documentary footage and transforming reality into film. – Webcuts.11

Weirdest of all is 39-A: Een Reisverhaal Van Eindeloos (A Travel Tale Of Interminable), which seems specifically designed to make the viewer feel as if he or she is experiencing some abnormal brain activity. In the short, Old Super 8 footage of a trip to the Kennedy Space Center is overlaid with an animated roadmap and a narration track that sounds as if it’s been run through Babel Fish half a dozen times. It’s proof—if more were needed—that finding the festival’s hidden treasures sometimes requires a little digging. – The Onion A.V. Club

… a high brow spoof on art theory, deconstruction, documentaries, and reality itself. – D Magazine

Evan Mather’s short film is one mindfuck of a travelogue. – Film Threat

[Evan Mather’s] riveting new documentary A Necessary Ruin … manages not only to make engineering sexy and preservation politics compelling, but succinctly tells the tale of one of the most tragic architectural plunderings in recent memory. – The Architect’s Newspaper

Upon its completion in October 1958, the Union Tank Car Dome, located north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the largest clear-span structure in the world. Based on the engineering principles of the visionary design scientist and philosopher Buckminster Fuller, this geodesic dome was, at 384 feet in diameter, the first large scale example of this building type. A Necessary Ruin chronicles the dome’s history via interviews with architects, engineers, preservationists, media, and artists; animated sequences demonstrating the operation of the facility; and hundreds of rare photographs and video segments taken during the dome’s construction, decline, and demolition.

A landscape architectural firm shreds three months worth of its waste paper and creates a provocative art installation about sustainability.

Creative, innovative, surprising and unexpected! An incredible message that speaks beautifully to designers and the public about an important issue. – ASLA 2008 Professional Awards Jury

Due to the recent unpleasantness, Baton Rouge has eclipsed New Orleans as the largest city in Louisiana. Is the city destined for greatness? Scenic Highway is the name of US Highway 61 as it passes through northern Baton Rouge. It is also this trip to the city – and such landmarks as Huey Long’s art deco State Capitol building and Buckminster Fuller’s hidden geodesic dome. This darkly affectionate memoir is also an exposé of the city’s colorful history – told through the use of animated motion graphics, archival Super 8 footage, and re-created & faux-created elements.

***1/2 – Mather uses a combination of archival Super 8 footage, iconic still photographs, animation, and loopy recreations of famous events in Baton Rouge’s history to create his sardonic and irreverent ode. Relevant selected readings from such authors as Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac set to Juuso Auvinen’s moody, dreamy score provide an aural complement to Mather’s oddly engaging visual history. If Scenic Highway were just some sort of bland Chamber of Commerce puff piece about Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it certainly wouldn’t even bear a mention here. Fortunately for Mather and his viewers, Scenic Highway is to the common travelogue what the triple latte is to coffee. – Film Threat

Part diary, part travelogue, part mystery, part filmmaker retrospective, Scenic Highway is a love letter to the hometown of he who must surely be Baton Rouge’s most prodigal son. Evan Mather’s homage to the capital of Louisiana is a pastiche of styles and formats that rewrites the geography of this landscape through a collection of video footage, animated maps and diagrams, written testimonials and guided tours. Bracketing some of the City’s more salient (if bizarre) history factoids within the context of the State and the world at large, Mather manages to write himself right into this urban text with excerpts of his earlier films shot in the region and other Super-8 and video snapshots of him and his friends against the same backdrop. The results are hilarious, deeply touching and often breathtakingly creepy. FIVE STARS! – New Orleans Video Access Center

This short film is an adaptation of the classic urban design tome – The Image of the City – by Associate Professor Kevin Lynch (1918-1984) of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

*** – At a first glance, you may think that The Image of the City is a painfully pretentious and awfully presumptuous pseudo-art house documentary short, and in many respects, you’d be correct … but what’s also available beneath the seams is a clear parallel of man to every other worker automaton in nature, from the random animal to the average worker ant that familiarizes itself with landmarks and paths, and is somehow conditioned to follow these pre-destined designs to get them to their destination … in many ways, we are also the worker ants, as Kevin Lynch examines how we’re more so conditioned to follow designs and comfort zones, rather than we are street smart. Much like worker ants of their colonies, Lynch examines how we’re also born with a sense of radar and how the world is more built for the easy ability of production and less for the individual … though it’s overbearing in its presentation, The Image of the City is a fascinating glimpse at the world we live in and our ever growing connection to the common animal. – Film Threat

Delta 1577 from Los Angeles (LAX) to New Orleans (MSY) in November 2016.