Using my present-day landscape photography, California's Silicon Valley is imagined as its own future wasteland, the former home, that is, of the technology industry. This is a creative, if dystopic look at what the region that makes tomorrow (e.g. Apple, Google, Oracle) will look like tomorrow. In this speculative work, I make many starting assumptions. One important one is that the metaphor of the “bubble-burst” – used to explain the relative collapse of economies – is no longer the fate of the technology sector. As copycat regions continue to reproduce the seemingly-continual growth of Silicon Valley (e.g. Santa Monica’s Silicon Beach, Austin’s Silicon Hills, and upstate New York’s Tech Valley), capital flows will eventually level out such that the original Silicon Valley is left with swaths of unneeded infrastructure. Not so much a burst, then, the slide back into rural-ish suburbia will be gradual, leaving the landscape littered with the quick architecture of necessity. A play on the game of imagining oneself as a future archaeologist, here I play this game from the perspective of an artist-geographer in the year 2100, imagining how our intellectual descendants will make sense of a once-dominant economic region.
I performed a lecture at the 2016 AAG conference—a monologue spoken over this video that I made (above). My purpose was to engage with futurity studies in a way that opens the door for cultural landscape geographers to start imagining themselves in the future, looking back on the present day. "Spatial histories," I believe, are not so different from spatial futures. They each require leaps of imagination. Importantly, our ideas about what the future might be inform how we interpret the past. What better place to study the future than Silicon Valley, and what better city to present such work than San Francisco, both of which are obsessed with their own futures.
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