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Presented in collaboration with Stillhere

In January 2004, CITY|SPACE collaborated with Stillhere to create City Marsh : City Transect, a live, site-specific interpretation of Mission Bay's landscape history. The event celebrated the opening of Stillhere's Bayboards, which makes use of donated commercial billboards to reveal the past, present and future of Bay Area landscapes.

In San Francisco, Bayboards made use of five transit shelters on 5th Street and one billboard at 5th and Townsend to reveal "two short centuries in seven long blocks." It is an archeological exercise, peeling back the layers of this landscape to understand how it has been inhabited, altered, modified over time. This event sought to take this project a step further, with the addition of new materials in a contemporary medium.

Lightrhythmvisuals VJ Ben Sheppee created a visual landscape through the live manipulation of archival and documentary materials provided by stillhere and CITY|SPACE. Sheppee created atmospheric juxtapositions on the spot by combining film, video, historic maps and photos to reveal the course of change in the local landscape. These were projected on a large scrim under the billboard, visible for several blocks up 5th Street.

The Billboard stands at what once was the shore of Mission Bay, and now lies among fragments of transportation infrastructure, emerging neighborhoods, and declining industrial zones, which provided an atmospheric backdrop for the event.

As conceived by Stillhere and reflected in the Bayboards content, 5th street serves as a transect -- a straight line cut through a complex landscape. At one time, this transect passed through five distinct ecological zones: sandhill/dunes, grassland, salt marsh, mudflat, bay. These zones provided the structure for the interpretive piece. In much the same way, this transect today traverses a diverse and rapidly evolving urban landscape.

CITY|SPACE contributors created original documentary footage of the contemporary urban landscape and contemporary analogs of the ecological zones that once existed along 5th Street. Mr. Sheppee could thus draw on images of mudflats or sloughs (for example) to evoke the site's history.

By exploring this transect both in space and across time, City Marsh : City Transect sought to root the contemporary landscape in a complex and dynamic history, and reveal the ecological strata that underlie the city.

Click HERE to view the invitation.

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