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Firescapes: Powerlines & Trees Collaboratory

Project Details

Project Year: 2022-2023

Project Type: Collaboratory


Peggy Weil, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Film & Television Production, School of Cinematic Arts, USC

Innovation Scholars

Yuwei Lin, Interactive Media and Game Design
Susan Tang, Environmental Studies
Jasmine Yu, Computer Science
Major Yang, Applied Math and Computer Science
Nicole Carrera, GeoDesign

Special Guests

Daniel Wuebben, Liberal Studies, NYU Madrid
Erik Loyer, Creative Technologist
Peter Westwick, Adjunct Professor (Research) of History, USC

The Firescape Collaboratory will focus resources to research and visualize the complex interplay of Los Angeles wildfires, powerlines (literal and political) and trees as a series of lenses to view our increasingly vulnerable landscape. Climate change demands that we train ourselves to acknowledge the complex interplay of our surroundings: the demand and delivery of electricity and water; over-and-undergrowth of trees and brush; disparities between neighborhoods.

Students in this Collaboratory will research, collate, and create an online multimedia map visualization, incorporating dynamic layers and links, to serve as a narrative documentation of the impact of infrastructure, nature and climate on Los Angeles neighborhoods. The map layers will integrate the history and placement of utility infrastructure with data of the urban forest, brush and shade canopy as informed by research, historical documents, current surveys and urban geographers. The site will encourage alternative views of the familiar landscape, potentially using AR and/or animation. While visualization isn’t a solution, it is a step towards removing the blinders hindering our ability to take collective and individual action.