Today on the edge of the now treacherous once-lake moonscape, a ruin remains. This ruin has become the Metabolic Studio’s laboratory for the Optic and Sonic Division. The Optic Division has repurposed on of the silo’s there into a camera. And the buildings have been adapted by the Sonic Division so that they play a sound so sweet that it is capable of shift the sands of the Owens Dry Lake Bed.
Mineral resources, particularly silver, have been extracted from the Owens Valley to make film. As the population of LA exploded with the film industry, LA turned again to the Easter Sierra where melting snow provided water from which by gravity system. Water was, and still is, delivered 240 miles from it’s source to fuel the city. Both extractive industries, silver and water, transformed the Owens Valley until the majesty that glacial time provided became an unnatural desert, coated in poisonous dust.
Tucked between the mighty Eastern Sierra and the Inyo Range, the Owens Lake was part of a glacial time network of interconnected bodies of fresh water that traversed the Inter Mountain west. The agri-potential of this area was rich. But, in the last one hundred years the redirecting of water from the Sierra has left the landscape parched and unable to support life.
Since 2008 the Metabolic Soil Project, and the IOU Garden have been making soil and giving it away to growers who have in turn supported a rebound in the availability of fresh food. The Metabolic Studio has also rebuilt the structure of the historic Hoist House at Cerro Gordo, helped establish a garden in Death Valley’s Darwin, established the IOU Bank of Trust and Time and encouraged the LADWP donate a property on Main Street to the community—the IOU Garden. The Garden has become a resource center where conversations, lectures and weekly farmers markets take place. The center of the IOU is a bread oven built from the clay of the dry lake bed.