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Artbound Special Episode 'AgH2O'

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On November 5, 1913, the Los Angeles Aqueduct began bringing water to the city. 100 years later, KCET is looking at what has happened, what it means, and more across its website. See more stories here.

Artbound's one-hour special looks at Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio's "AgH2O" project which connects the elements mined from the Owens Valley, silver and water, to the emergence of the film industry. Silver mined from the Owens Valley was shipped to Rochester, New York, where it was used to make film. That film was then shipped back to Hollywood where films where made -- often shot on locations where the silver itself was from.

In this episode, Artbound focuses on the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio. The Optics Division is on a quest for the perfect indexical image, an image not just of the valley but made from the valley. The team has been working on all aspects of production including the camera(s), the film stock, the developers and fixatives, all sourced from the dry lake bed.

Bon and The Optics Division's tools include the "Liminal Camera," a portable camera and darkroom housed in a shipping container. The team can produce large black and white images matching the size of the container itself in a few hours.

The special explores other tools that have been developed by the Optics Division including the "Silo Camera" located in a one hundred foot silo on the edge of the Owens Dry Lake Bed and Mine Camera. The rig is being used to see the mine shaft, unused for nearly 100 years, that provided the silver for the pioneering film industry.

More about the "AgH2O" project and the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct:

AgH2O: Silver, Water, and Pinhole Camera in a Silo
Lauren Bon's "Liminal Camera," comprised of a repurposed shipping container mounted on the back of a truck, captures the dessicated Owens Lake in large-scale photographs.

Liminal Elements: A Shipping Container Becomes a Camera Obscura
The "Liminal Camera," housed in a traveling shipping container, is both a one-of-a-kind camera and serves as its own photo processing center and storage facility.

De-silvering the Mirror: Mining for Film in the Owens Valley
It is a little-known fact that some of the silver and chemicals to produce the films that made Hollywood the global center of the movie industry were extracted from the Owens Valley.

One Hundred Mules: Tracing L.A. Aqueduct with Lauren Bon
Lone Pine film historian Christopher Langley discusses working with Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio on the project AgH20.

Water, Pipeline, and 100 Mules
Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio will perform "One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct," a commemorative artist action to connect Los Angeles to its water supply.

There It Is. Take It: 100 Years of the Los Angeles Aqueduct
William Mulholland gave L.A. water and a motto to live by. David Ulin ruminates on the lifeblood of California.

AgH20 is a 240-mile work that aims at reconnecting Los Angeles with the elements that made it viable historically: silver and water, both mined from the mountains of the Owens Valley.

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