Artbound

S4 E5 | FULL EPISODE

100 Mules Walking The Los Angeles Aqueduct

"Artbound" travels with Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio as they perform "One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct," a commemorative artist action to reconnect Los Angeles to its water supply by walking the entire 240-mile route of the Los Angeles Aqueduct with a team of 100 hundred mules. The action marked the 100-year anniversary of the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

AIRED: May 08, 2014 | 0:58:30
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

[CAPTIONS MADE POSSIBLE BY KCET

TELEVISION]

>> WATER IS THE COMMON OF ALL

LIVING THINGS.

CERTAINLY IN THE LAST 150-1

HUNDRED 60 YEARS, WE THINK ABOUT

WATER AS A COMMODITY THAT WE CAN

EXPORT FROM ONE PLACE AND THEN

DISTRIBUTE AS A RIGHT OF OUR

CITIZENSHIP.

BUT THERE IS MUCH OLDER AND

EARLIER WAYS TO THINK ABOUT

WATER.

WE ALL NEED TO ASK PERMISSION,

HONOR THE WATER.

ALMOST EVERY CULTURE HAS THAT

DEEPLY EMBEDDED INTO IT.

MOST PEOPLE THAT I WOULD TALK TO

WHO LIVE IN LOS ANGELES HAVE

ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHERE THEIR

WATER CAME FROM, LET ALONE THAT

WE ARE APPROACHING A BIG

ANNIVERSARY.

SO THE QUESTION OF HOW YOU

CELEBRATE SOMETHING THAT DIDN'T

EXIST BECAME PERPLEXING TO ME.

THE REAL WAY TO COMMEMORATE

SOMETHING IS TO OFFER A

SOLUTION.

[THUNDER]

>> ONE OF THE THINGS THE VALLEY

HAS PAID DEARLY FOR AS A RESULT

OF OUR LIFESTYLE, IT HAS

CONSISTENTLY SHRUNK OVER TIME

BECAUSE IT REQUIRES A LOT OF

WATER TO SUPPORT OUR LIVELIHOOD.

THOSE PEOPLE IN THE VALLEY

DESERVE SOME OF THE BENEFIT

SINCE THEY ARE PAYING A LOT OF

THE COST.

ONE OF THE WAYS THAT WE CAN DO

THAT IS TO MAKE SURE THAT WE PAY

ATTENTION TO WHAT THEIR NEEDS

ARE.

THE METABOLIC STUDIO'S

ENGAGEMENT IN THE VALLEY, WE

WORK WITH A NETWORK OF GROWERS

TO TURN COMPOST INTO SOIL BY

ADDING CARBONS THAT COME FROM

THE MILK PACKING INDUSTRY WHICH

IS STILL WORKING IN THAT VALLEY.

THE MULES WERE USED TO BUILD THE

AQUEDUCT IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND

THEY WERE USED AT THAT SAME TIME

BY TEDDY ROOSEVELT TO BUILD THE

PANAMA CANAL.

THEY ARE MAJOR, MAJOR LABOR

FORCE IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE

WESTERN WORLD AS WE KNOW IT, AND

IN THE UNITED STATES, THEY HAVE

NEVER PROPERLY BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED

FOR THEIR ROLE IN THE

CONSTRUCTION OF AGRICULTURE.

IT WAS IN THAT COLLABORATION

WITH THE MULE PACKERS THAT I

REALIZED THERE WAS POTENTIAL TO

WALK THE ENTIRE LOS ANGELES

AQUEDUCT AS A COMMEMORATIVE

ACTION FOR THE CENTENNIAL OF THE

OPENING OF THE AQUEDUCT.

I WANTED TO DRAW THE LINE FOR

PEOPLE BETWEEN THE FORCE -- THE

SOURCE OF OUR WATER AND THE

CITY THAT BENEFITS.

TO ACTUALLY BE THAT LINE, NOT

METAPHORICALLY, BUT TO LITERALLY

CHOOSE 100 MULES MOVING

CONTINUOUSLY FOR A MONTH AS AN

ANIMATED DRAWING, AND LEARNING

OURSELVES HOW TO LIVE OFF THE

GRID.

WALKING THE AQUEDUCT IS ABOUT

THE MYSTERY OF THE MULE, THE

FIRST HYBRID ANIMAL EVER

PRODUCED ON THE PLANET, WE

CREATED THE MULE TO DO OUR WORK,

THE FIRST SLAVE, 2000 YEARS AGO.

IT IS THE FIRST INVENTION TO

SHAPE THE WORLD IN OUR DREAM OF

IT.

SO THE ROUTE THAT WE WALL IS

BOOK ENDED BY TWO SYMBOLIC

PIECES OF ENGINEERING.

THE INTAKE OF THE L.A. AQUEDUCT

WHICH IS JUST NORTH OF THIS

RANCH AND INDEPENDENCE, AND THE

CASCADES, WHEN THE WATER THAT

HAS BEEN IMPORTED IS FIRST

RELEASED INTO THE CITY.

SO THESE SYMBOLIC MODES ARE THE

BEGINNING AND ENDING OF THE

ROUTE.

ALONG THAT JOURNEY, THERE ARE

THREE DISTINCT SECTIONS.

THE FIRST SECTION IS RIGHT IN

THE FOOTHILLS OF THE EASTERN

SIERRA'S WHERE THE WATER COMES

DOWN.

IT IS MOSTLY OPENED NOW.

TO MOVE 100 MULES FOR 240 MILES

INVOLVES AN INCREDIBLY ORGANIZED

MOVABLE URBAN FORM.

WE HAVE FIVE PORTABLE CORRALS

THAT ARE SET UP AND BROKEN DOWN

EVERY DAY, PACKED INTO TWO

TRUCKS.

WE HAVE A KITCHEN TRUCK WITH A

CREW OF THREE OR FOUR PEOPLE

THAT WOULD MAKE TWO MEALS A DAY,

BREAKFAST AND DINNER.

WE WOULD CARRY SANDWICHES WITH

US ON THE ROAD.

WE DIDN'T STOP FOR LUNCH.

SO TO MOVE THE MULES WERE

ACQUIRED THAT THE MULES BE SPLIT

UP INTO GROUPS OF 10, CALLED

STRINGS.

EACH STRING OF 10 MULES HAS A

WRANGLER THAT IS DEDICATED TO

IT.

SO FOR 100 MULES, THERE WERE 10

WRANGLERS, WITH THREE EXTRA

WRANGLERS.

>> TAKING THE SAFE ROUTE,

BREAKING DOWN THE STRINGS,

MAKING IT SIMPLE.

WE DON'T WANT TO GET WET TODAY.

WE'RE JUST GOING TO TAKE THE

MULES ACROSS.

WE HAD A REWARD OR TRUCK THAT

HAD TOILETS AND SHOWERS BUT WHEN

WE ARE ON THE ROAD WE HAD A VET

AND A MULE CHIROPRACTOR THAT

WORKED ON THE MULES EVERY DAY,

WHEN CALLED WATER FURTHER MULES.

IT WAS A CONSIDERABLE LOGISTIC

EXERCISE.

-- HAULED WATER FOR THE MULES.

>> 100 MULES WALKING THE LOS

ANGELES AQUEDUCT COULD NOT HAVE

HAPPENED WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF

EIGHT MILE RANCH.

THEY WERE ABLE TO ASSEMBLE A

WORLD-CLASS TEAM OF WRANGLERS

WHO CAME TO PARTICIPATE ON THE

PROJECT SPECIFICALLY FOR THE

OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WITH THEM.

I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE THE

LOGISTICS OF IT WITHOUT THEIR

HELP.

>> LOS ANGELES IS AN INEVITABLE

CITY.

THE CLIMATE IS PERFECT.

WE LIVE ON THIS VAST LANE NEXT

TO THE OCEAN.

WE HAVE SOME OF THE BEST WEATHER

IN THE WORLD.

AROUND THE TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY,

THERE WAS A TREMENDOUS MIGRATION

INTO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.

PEOPLE CAME HERE FOR THE GOOD

AIR.

AND THE POPULATION EXPANDED.

TO MEET THOSE POPULATION

DEMANDS, LOS ANGELES STARTED

LOOKING FOR PLACES TO IMPORT

WATER INTO THE CITY.

AND SO MR. MULHOLLAND AND THE

THEN MAYOR TRAVELED TO THE OWENS

VALLEY TO LOOK FOR WATER

SUPPLIES TO BRING TO LOS

ANGELES.

THEY SECURED WATER RIGHTS

THROUGHOUT THE EASTERN SIERRA

AND THEN SLOWLY WENT TO THE

VOTERS OF THE CITY TO TRY TO

FIND THE FUNDING TO BUILD WHAT

THEN BECAME THE LOS ANGELES

AQUEDUCT, WHICH WAS OPENED IN

1913.

>> WE DEVELOPED A FIRSTHAND

EXPERIENCE OF WHAT SOME OF THE

EARLY EXPIRATIONS OF THE WEST

MIGHT HAVE BEEN LIKE AND PEOPLE

LIKE POWELL WERE COMMISSIONED BY

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TO EXPLORE

THE ENTIRE WEST, AND CAME UP

WITH INCREDIBLE MAPS THAT ARE AS

VALID TODAY AS THEY WERE THEN,

ABOUT HOW THE WEST COULD BE

DIVIDED IF WE DIDN'T MAKE AN

L.A. AQUEDUCT OR THE HOOVER DAM.

WHERE WOULD CIVILIZATION BE?

>> CAN YOU SEE ME HERE?

>> I SAW YOU A MINUTE AGO, NOW I

AM IN A LOW SPOT.

>> IT HAS MORE DIRT ON TOP OF

IT.

>> THEY SHOULD BE RIGHT THERE

MOMENTARILY, IF THEY ARE NOT

THERE ALREADY.

>> WE ARE ABOUT FIVE MINUTES

OUT.

>> OK.

>> THERE IS A CHP.

THERE ARE TWO OF THEM.

>> DID YOU COPY THAT?

>> WE ARE GOING TO KICK IT UP A

NOTCH.

>> I THINK ONE NOTCH WOULD BE

PERFECT.

>> I THINK OUR LOGISTICS TEAM

GETS MAJOR KUDOS ON THE TIME

TRAVEL ESTIMATION FOR TODAY.

>> THANK YOU.

I WILL SAY IF IT WAS NOT FOR

JAIME'S TECHNICAL SKILLS, WE

STILL WOULD NOT HAVE THE

DESTINATION.

>> WAY TO GO.

>> WE ARE LIVING IN A TIME WHERE

THERE ARE A WHOLE LOT OF

ASSUMPTIONS THAT WE MAKE BY

LIVING IN A CITY LIKE LOS

ANGELES.

WE ASSUME THERE WILL BE ENOUGH

WATER SOMEHOW.

WE ASSUME THERE WILL BE ENOUGH

FOOD SOMEHOW.

WE ASSUME THERE WILL BE ENOUGH

POWER SOMEHOW.

AND I THINK PEOPLE ARE STARTING

TO FEEL, IS THAT A REASONABLE

ASSUMPTION TO MAKE?

I'M NOT SATISFIED WITH JUST

MAKING THE JOURNEY.

I'M MORE CONCERNED WITH THE

ASPECT THAT ADDRESSES HOW WE

LIVE IN OUR WATERSHED, ON THE

SAME SCALE THAT SOCIETY HAS THE

CAPACITY TO DESTROY.

>> I HAVE FLOWN OVER THE OWENS

VALLEY MYSELF A FEW TIMES IN MY

FLIGHTS OVER THAT PART OF LOS

ANGELES AND BEYOND.

SO I WAS FAMILIAR WITH THE

GENERAL LANDSCAPE, BUT I WAS SO

FASCINATED TO SEE WHAT LAUREN

WAS DOING THERE AND HOW SHE HAD

MADE AN INVESTMENT IN THINKING

ABOUT HER PROJECT AND HER

ACTIONS OVER THE LAST YEARS.

>> WE WILL JUST FOLLOW THE ROAD.

IT SHOULD BE OFF TO THE RIGHT.

I'M NOT GOING TO CLIMB MUCH

HIGHER THAN THIS.

I'M ALMOST SURE I SEE ALL THE

DUST.

>> 100 OF THEM ALL LABELED WITH

THE 100 BLANKETS, A FANTASTIC

SITE.

>> A LOOK SO BEAUTIFUL.

>> WE HAD A CHANCE TO SEE THE

LINE OF THE MULES WITH SHADOWS

FROM THE AIR.

IT WAS VERY BEAUTIFUL.

>> PRETTY CLOSE TO THE HIGHWAY.

>> SO LAUREN AS AN ARTIST I

THINK REALLY UNDERSTANDS HOW TO

MAKE THE IMAGE SOMETHING THAT

DRAWS THE LINE, DRAWS ATTENTION

OR FOCUS FOR A PROJECT WHICH IS

REALLY VERY MULTIFACETED, VERY

COMPLEX, VERY EMBEDDED IN THE

COMMUNITY, VERY THOUGHTFUL ABOUT

LARGE ISSUES OF WATER, TIME, AND

LOS ANGELES AND THE VALLEY.

I THINK WHAT WAS NICE WAS THIS

LINE SHE DREW, AND IMAGE SHE

MADE AS A WAY TO GET US INTO THE

COMPLEXITY OF THE ISSUE.

WHAT AN ARTIST DOES IS TAKE

SOMETHING LIKE THE IDEA OF THE

WESTERN AND RECONSIDERS IT

ENTIRELY, TAKES A DIFFERENT

PERSPECTIVE TOWARD IT.

IT IS A WESTERN.

IT IS A JOURNEY.

THE ROADS WILL BE TO THE EXTENT

THAT IT IS FILMED AND DOCUMENTED

, THERE IS A TRADITION OF ART

THAT HAS DEVELOPED IN THE

WESTERN UNITED STATES THAT IS TO

MAKE ART THAT ISN'T A PICTURE OF

NATURE, AS MIGHT BE A

19TH-CENTURY ROMANTIC SENSE OF

HOW TO BRING NATURE INTO THE

WORLD OF ART, BUT RATHER

CHANNELS NATURE, SPACE, INTO

EXPERIENCE.

SHE IS WORKING IN A TRADITION OF

ARTISTS IN THE WESTERN UNITED

STATES THAT CAUSES YOU TO THINK

DIFFERENTLY, AS I THINK IT COST

SETTLERS TO THINK DIFFERENTLY.

SHE IS NEITHER CELEBRATING NOR

REALLY DENIGRATING THE

ANNIVERSARY.

WHAT SHE IS DOING IS CREATING

AWARENESS.

I THINK THAT IS WHAT IS VERY

EXCITING ABOUT HER WORK, IT'S

NOT JUST ABOUT MAKING IMAGES FOR

A GALLERY OR ANYTHING ELSE, BUT

IT'S ABOUT ENGAGING THE

COMMUNITY, THINKING ABOUT OUR

WORLD, AND THINKING ABOUT MAKING

OUR WORLD BETTER BY BOTH ACTION

AND CREATING AN INSIGHT THROUGH

AN IMAGE.

>> FOR GREAT CITIES TO EXIST,

YOU NEED WATER.

ROME IMPORT CLOSE TO 90% OF ITS

WATER.

NEW YORK CITY IMPORTS 100% OF

ITS WATER FROM HUNDREDS OF MILES

AWAY TO BE THERE DRINKING WATER.

SAN FRANCISO IMPORTS 99% OF ITS

WATER IN ORDER FOR THAT GREAT

CITY TO SURVIVE.

SO IT IS INEVITABLE, LIKE EVERY

OTHER GREAT CITY, THAT WE WOULD

IMPORT WATER INTO LOS ANGELES.

NEXT THE SECOND SECTION GOES TO

MOHAVE.

THAT SECTION OF ROAD PROVE QUITE

AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEAL WITH

ENDURANCE.

IT WAS VERY HOT, VERY LONG DAYS.

REALLY ADVENTURESOME.

WE WERE UP IN THE MOUNTAINS,

WHERE THE BIG SIPHONS ARE, WHERE

THE WATER COMES ALL THE WAY DOWN

AND JUTS ALL THE WAY UP.

>> THE ONE THING I FEEL IS A

TREMENDOUS LOSS, AND LOS ANGELES

NEEDS TO IT KNOWLEDGE, IS OUR

INDEBTEDNESS TO PLACES SUCH AS

OWENS VALLEY, WHERE WE IMPORT

OUR WATER INTO THE CITY.

THOSE ARE THE SOURCES OF WHERE

OUR WATER COMES FROM, AND WE

NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT.

AND WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT WE

HAVE THIS DEBT, AND THAT DEBT

CAN BE EXPRESSED THROUGH ACTING

RESPONSIBLY IN HOW WE USE WATER

HERE IN LOS ANGELES AND HOW WE

CAPTURE THAT WATER FROM THE

VARIOUS SOURCES.

WE HAVE TO DO IT RESPONSIBLY.

I THINK THAT IS THE MESSAGE THAT

LAUREN IS CONVEYING, IS THAT WE

HAVE THIS RELATIONSHIP WITH

THESE PLACES HUNDREDS OF MILES

AWAY.

WE ARE CONNECTED.

AND SHE CONNECTED OWENS VALLEY

WITH LOS ANGELES IN THIS

INCREDIBLY CREATIVE WAY OF USING

THE VERY MUSCLE, THE MEANS OF

BUILDING THAT AQUEDUCT IN THE

FIRST PLACE, AS THE MEANS OF

TELLING THE STORY 100 YEARS

LATER.

>> THE ONE THING THAT MIGHT BE

WORTH LOOKING AT IS --

>> WE BETTER LOOK AT THAT.

>> THE THIRD SECTION THROUGH THE

MOJAVE DESERT STRAIGHT TO THE

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, THAT WAS SO

SURREAL.

WE WENT TO THE TERRITORY OF WHAT

I CALL THE GIANT FOREST OF WIND

INSTRUMENTS.

CAMPED OUT AT NIGHT WITH THE

BUZZ OF HIGH TENSION CABLES

OVERHEAD, ENERGY BEING DELIVERED

FROM THE DESERT SURROUNDING US.

THAT WHOLE STRETCH TOOK ABOUT A

WEEK OF WALKING.

IT IS REALLY RICH IN TERMS OF

THE TERRITORY OF EXPLORATION OF

SOLAR AND WIND ENERGY.

THE LAST CENTURY HAS LARGELY

BEEN POWERED BY WATER FROM THE

ROCKIES.

THE DISCUSSION ABOUT THE ENERGY

PART OF THE WATER AND POWER

EQUATION.

[INDISCERNIBLE]

>> THIS WON'T BE A PROBLEM.

WE MAY NEED A LITTLE HELP FOR

SOME OF THE YOUNGER ONES.

>> WE WERE IN THE LOBBY AND WE

HAD THE OPPORTUNITY -- WE WERE

IN MOJAVE.

HOW DO WE MOVE GOODS AROUND THE

WORLD?

THE MULES FOR A REALLY LONG TIME

AND ARE GOODS AROUND THE UNITED

STATES.

THE UNIT OF TRADE HAS SHIFTED IN

THE GLOBAL ECONOMY TO CARGO

CONTAINER.

BUT TO SEE THE RURAL AND THE

TRAINS, THE CARGO CONTAINERS, IS

A REALLY UNIQUE SENSE.

>> TRAINS COMING.

>> AND FINALLY, THE FOURTH

SECTION WAS THE SAN FERNANDO

VALLEY.

WE ACTUALLY MADE IT BY NOVEMBER

5.

THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND

POWER WAS DOING A REENACTMENT OF

THE EVENT THAT HAPPENED 100

YEARS AGO WHEN MULHOLLAND MADE

HIS FAMOUS SPEECH, THERE IT IS,

TAKE IT, AND WATER WAS DELIVERED

TO THE THRONGS OF PEOPLE AND TO

THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY.

>> SO THE LOGISTICS OF THIS

METABOLIC SCULPTURE, THE

EXPERIENCE WE ALL HAD A MOVING

THROUGH SPACE TOGETHER, WAS THE

MOST PERFECT SOCIAL EXPERIMENT

I'VE EVER PARTICIPATED IN.

WE ALL FELT THE MEANING BEHIND

WHAT WE WERE DOING, SO THE WHOLE

EXPERIENCE WITH DIRECT ACTION,

THAT PRIVATE CITIZENS ARE SO

UNIQUELY CAPABLE OF DOING, BUT

WHEN YOU DO IT COLLECTIVELY, IT

BUILDS A VERY SPECIAL ENERGY

THAT I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE MORE

OF IN MY LIFE.

THAT IMAGE OF THE MULES WALKING

THE SKYLINE OF LOS ANGELES WITH

THE CITY IN THE BACKGROUND WAS

THE IMAGE THAT GALVANIZED FOR ME

AS AN ARTIST.

THAT WAS THE IMAGE I WANTED TO

SEE.

THAT WAS THE IMAGE THAT WAS IN

MY MINDS EYE.

BECAUSE THE MULE AND THE COURSE

WERE LINKED TO A DIFFERENT

MOMENT IN HISTORY THAN THE

SKYSCRAPERS THAT YOU SEE THROUGH

THAT WHOLE.

I REMEMBER SAYING LOOK, IF WE

ONLY GET ONE IMAGE FROM THE

WHOLE TRIP, IT'S THAT IMAGE.

THERE ARE A THE A RETICLE

PROBLEMS THAT ARE BIGGER THAN

THINGS THAT -- YOU RETICLE

PROBLEMS THAT ARE BIGGER THAN

THINGS I CAN DO.

I CANNOT FIGURE OUT WHAT THE

NEXT HUNDRED YEARS ARE GOING TO

LOOK LIKE, BUT I CAN USE THAT

ROUND NUMBER OF 100 TO DRAW A

LINE IN THE SAND AND SAY I, AS A

PRIVATE CITIZEN, AS AN ARTIST

THOMAS NEED TO CREATE A PARADIGM

SHIFT -- AS AN ARTIST, NEED TO

CREATE A PARADIGM SHIFT.

IT'S ABOUT ACKNOWLEDGING THAT

THERE HAS BEEN A VERY HIGH PRICE

TAG PAID FOR THE LIFESTYLE THAT

WE ENJOY TODAY, AND IT'S NOT

SIMPLY ABOUT THE WATER WE HAVE,

IT'S THE POWER WE USE.

BECAUSE MOST OF ALL, POWER COMES

FROM WATER.

IT'S ALL ABOUT WATER AND

GRAVITY.

I DON'T BELIEVE TODAY WE CAN

LOOK AT A TIME WHERE NOT GOING

TO NEED WATER FROM THE SIERRAS,

BUT AS A SOCIETY, WE CAN

CERTAINLY DO A LOT BETTER AT

MANAGING THAT RESOURCE AND

UTILIZING IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND

AGAIN.

SO TO END A 100 MULE WALL, HOW

CAN YOU POSSIBLY DO SOMETHING

THAT CATHARTIC AND UNBURDEN THEM

OF THEIR LOAD, THEIR BRIDAL,

THEIR REINS, THEIR BIT, THEIR

PATHS, AND JUST LET THEM BE.

YOU KNOW, WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE

WALK, I THINK ABOUT STAMPEDING

HERDS OF BUFFALO, AND WHAT THAT

MUST FEEL LIKE.

CAN YOU IMAGINE, TO EVEN HAVE

100 OF THOSE AND THEIR PURE,

UNBRIDLED ENERGY.

THAT, TO ME, IS THE WESTERN.

WHY I LIVE IN LOS ANGELES, WHILE

WE MAKE ART, IN TERMS OF THE

WORLD CULTURE, WE ARE STILL

CAPABLE OF THINKING OF OURSELVES

AS MAVERICKS RUNNING WILD AND

FREE.

THE QUESTION IS, HOW DO WE

DECIDE HOW TO CONTROL THAT KIND

OF COMBUSTED LIFE FORCE?

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