Upon arrival to Lakeside Labs I had an overwhelming feeling that I had just checking into a rehab center. Maybe it was the housing, communal dining, or all the friendly faces… either way I was out of my comfort zone and starting to have withdrawals from the life I once knew. The longer I stayed, the quicker I realized this was far different from the Betty Ford Clinic… This rehab center at Lakeside Labs was focused on readjusting to a life thats more conscious of the natural world around us through scientific exploration, examination, and explanation (the three big E’s as I like to call them). Regardless, I was having withdrawals from the urban and digital life I had grown accustom and unknowingly locked into.
I say all that half jokingly, but the reality is that when I got to Lakeside, for the first day or two I felt like a fish out of water. Coming from the heart of Los Angeles, it had been a long time since I spent a substantial amount of time in nature, let alone with people so knowledgable and enthusiastic about the natural world around us. As I adjusted to my new temporary habitat I made a conscious effort to put down my mobile device and focus my camera lens on the beautiful landscape, professors, and students studying here as a means of guiding my rehabilitation and assimilation back to nature.
It hit me quick that slowing down and observing my surrounds was going to be my best bet for understanding my new environment. Using the camera as a tool, I took the time to setup in one location for an hour and look deep into those immediate surroundings. For one second every minuet I filmed a different scene, totaling 60 individual observations. I noticed in the beginning my observations were random, but as the hour ticked away I became focused on compositions that emphasized light play in an the organic space. The following video is the compiled result of the study.
Looking deeper, one big take away from my first week had to do with mortality and survivorship. I sat in on an ecology class taught by Neil Bernstein and listening to him talk about species survivorship curves, I couldn’t help but think about my own mortality curve. This also became more emphasized when my curve almost became a sharp cut off with a chance bison encounter in the Badlands of South Dakota during an acoustic ecology excursion led by Alex Braidwood.
This video recap tries to visualize some of the connections I was making and experiences I was having.