live blogging you are here: CLUI

now it’s time for the headliner. Matt Coolidge, founder of the Center for Land Use Interpretation is up and giving an overview of CLUI’s history and trying to explain just exactly what it is (which is no easy task). Matt talks about how the Center looks at “man made geography,” or essentially how humans choose to interact and use the land they inhabit. CLUI is one part scientific research, one part sociologic research, and (by default) one part art project. In many ways CLUI is one big, very impressive, amateur geography project.
Matt talks about how the act of ‘pointing out’ is also an act of unintentionally ‘un-pointing out’ everything else. He shows a series of images of scenic overlook or points of interest signs, showing only the pointing sign but not what the sign is actually pointing to, and talks about how society as a whole has sectioned out pieces of the landscape as interesting; national parks and scenic byways, historical markers, and the like, and constantly redirects its attention to these places as vacation destinations and fodder for postcards and coffee table books. CLUI’s mission, on the other hand, is to look at the spaces inbetween, and to explore, map, and catalog the places that society as a whole has deemed uninteresting.
CLUI does a lot of really interesting work, and it is by far one of my favorite things (art or otherwise) going on these days. It is very difficult to explain in a nut-shell what they do; in some ways it is extremely simple, but it only makes sense if you take a little time looking at the larger picture. CLUI is the group behind the residency i did in Wendover UT a few months back which i detailed here in the ‘wendover reports’.
so my live blogging of Matt’s lecture didn’t really pan out, i got too interested in listening to him talk, and then the evening quickly turned into a social event and i was distracted by human interaction. But now, a couple days later, i find myself out on the Buffalo Bayou and shipping canal on the southeastern edge of Houston helping Matt hook-up plumbing and electricity to a recently donated construction trailer that will become home to CLUI’s newest research facility.
With help from the University of Houston and the Buffalo Bayou Restoration Partnership, CLUI is setting up a mobile research facility not unlike the one in Wendover (they also have them in the Mojave Desert and Troy, New York). In many ways, this whole weekend is sort of the kick-off event to get that started, and now I am here with Matt helping to set up a new UNIT. This will be a place for students and CLUI researchers to collect data about the Bayou and the surrounding area, and eventually create a large and on-going series of exhibits.
CLUI’s new research unit, on the site of an old ‘you-pick’ scrap-yard.
the view across the bayou from the unit.
Matt Coolidge in front of the soon to be new CLUI research unit.

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