Coral Reef City

Cities are a lot like coral reefs; it's inhabitants, humanoid, insect, mammal, botanical, layer upon layer weaving in and out, all that interconnected life affecting the city and it's structure organically, growing and evolving constantly. This idea occurred to me while watching the documentary "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill", which is about a band of wild parrots in San Francisco and the man who used to take care of them.

The movie documents how the bird community was forcefully disbanded and their caretaker displaced because the owner of the property wanted to make his already large mansion even larger. When I began these sketches, I envisioned floating metropolises made from heaps of garbage, but in thinking about how cities are shaped by our own human forces, be they good or bad, I decided to emulate a coral reef.

As I was sketching, I was reminded of this passage from William Gibson's book, Irodu:

Laney looked at the tweaked Hillman on his screen. "You haven't told me what I'm looking for."

"Anything that might be of interest to Slitscan. Which is to say, Laney, anything that might be of interest to Slitscan's audience. Which is best visualized as a vicious, lazy, profoundly ignorant, perpetually hungry organism craving the warm god-flesh of the anointed. Personally I like to imagine something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth, Laney, no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote. Or by voting in presidential elections."

-William Gibson, from the book Idoru


Aunt Deb said...

There is a place close to where you live where we have gone camping many times. It's a large Redwood forest called Big Basin and it is a wonderful example of how all life is intraconnected. These trees are the largest,tallest, and oldest trees in the world and they have the ability to arouse humility. It's hard to put in to words how a redwood forest can make you feel. They are immense, ancient, mysterious, stately, and powerful.

You have to go there! It is good for the soul.

Julia Lundman said...

Hi Aunt Debbie! Thank you so much for commenting and reading my blog. It means a lot to me!

I haven't been to Big Basin, but have been to Muir Woods...I know exactly what you mean by the redwoods. They are just incredible. Whenever I am hiking through areas like that I feel in awe by these ancient trees. They also make me feel really positive somehow, like 'this is where i should be'. I agree - very good for the soul.

I wonder if Big Basin was part of the wildfires up here that were encroaching Big Sur?


Jamie Baker said...

I would love to see you paint this city of your imagination, Julie...

On the subject of trees, Muir Woods etc, have you ever been to the "AVENUE of the GIANTS" about 3 hours drive north of SF? A huge stand or truly ancient Redwoods (much older, bigger trees than Muir Woods, covering a much bigger area)That place is marvellous, truly awe-inspiring.. like being in Nature's cathedral

Jamie Baker said...

PS: I very much enjoyed that movie about the Parrots too. I lived in North Beach for the first few years I was in SF so the parrots were a part of my introduction to the city.

:::Julia Lundman::: said...

i'm not sure if i have been to the avenue of the giants. my family and i drove on a really pretty smallish road on our way up to mendocino once a few years back. we were all amazed at some of the massive redwoods, even bigger than the ones seen in muir woods.

the documentary of the parrots of telegraph hill was also a story of the man who took care of them and the urbanization/greed of that neighborhood. it was outrageous and utterly sad that they would displace this man who was taking care of the flock for the city, displacing him in the name of turning a profit on their luxury home. i found that so cold and soul less...sure, it was 'messy' having all those birds around and this guy who was more or less homeless, but he represented a piece of the soul of san francisco. when purchasing a home, people must and should realize they are also buying into a particular neighborhood and have a social responsibility that reaches beyond property value. it is a perfect example of the excesses and greed of the past 15 years as well as how removed from society and social responsibility many americans have become