The thread increasingly surrounded by darkness Riding out the winter (decline) of industrial civilization

Harper Lake Solar Electric Generating Station

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Harper Lake Solar Electric Generating Station
In terms of output, the largest commercial solar power plant in the world.
This is the largest, in output, commercial solar power plant in the world, generating around 160 megawatts at its peak. It is one of three separately owned sites within 40 miles of one another, that make up the nine solar fields in the Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS). Harper Lake was the last of these built, and is designated as SEGS 8 and 9. Together the facilities can generate about 354 megawatts at peak output, comprising mostof the commercial solar power currently produced worldwide. These solar facilities are referred to as "advantageous peak facilities", as they operate at their peak when it is sunniest, which is also when local power requirements are greatest, due to increased air conditioning demand. The facilities regulate their power supply through the use of supplemental natural gas fueled electric generating plants. This plant was built on top of the remains of the aircraft R&D area at Harper Lake, which included facilities owned by Howard Hughes, and Northrop, which tested flying wing aircraft out of Harper Lake. Also on the grounds of the Solar Plant (and razed for the construction of the plant) is the site of much of the town of Lockhart, which was known for its beef cattle industry.
In terms of energy output, the largest solar array anywhere.
Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm

A third of the state’s 15,000 wind turbines are located here. Employing multiple generations of turbine technology, the dozen private companies that run the farm collectively deliver enough electricity to satisfy the residential needs of 350,000 people. In a state approaching 37 million, that’s small time.

The Tehachapi Wind Farm, with around 5,000 wind turbines, is the second largest collection of wind generators in the world (the largest is at the Altamont pass, near Livermore and the San Francisco Bay area), but is now the largest wind power array in the world in output. The turbines are operated by a dozen private companies, and collectively produce about 800 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough to meet the residential needs of 350,000 people every year. With over 15,000 turbines in the state (7,000 at Altamont and 3,000 at San Gorgonio Pass, near Palm Springs), wind power in California makes up about 1% of California's electricity.
Largest wind farm in the world
Mohave Power Station
The operators of this coal burning plant once responsible for dirtying some billion gallons of water a year decided to close the facility down instead of installing the necessary pollution control measures imposed by a lawsuit. Thanks guys!
Mojave Airport
Company logos removed or covered immediately to preserve an image
Hey, if it’s good enough for Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo, the Rocket Racing League and Kevin Costner’s watery post-apocalyptic sci-fi epic, Waterworld, it’s good enough for me.
See if you can get eric to find someone to give us a flight out of here—to do some aerial recon.
God, you can totally talk all about the civilian space flight thing--

This remote former World War II desert airfield has developed some very interesting and unusual features. It is a center for civilian aviation R&D, a major aircraft storage and scrap yard (possibly the largest nonmilitary one in the country), a busy film site, and is the home of the National Test Pilot School, the largest civilian test pilot school in the world. The school trains over 300 students annually and has 46 aircraft, from fighter jets to sailplanes, which are kept in four hangars at the airport. Several aerospace companies have facilities here, including BAE, GE and Northrop-Grumman. Also located here is Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites company, where many innovative aircraft designs have been conceived and constructed. Mojave Airport is also where many commercial carriers store surplus or otherwise in- limbo airliners. There are currently around 90 airplanes waiting to be sold, repaired or reused here, including several 747s. As is the case with many sites in the Antelope Valley, Mojave Airport accommodates films and advertising productions of all sorts. For example, the all-wet epic movie Waterworld filmed scenes which included a model of the Exxon Valdez at Mojave Airport.

The center of civilian aerospace research and development—Richard Branson’s Space Ship One is based here.
The designer of which is probably as close as our civilization will come to producing a “space cowboy.”
Lake Havasu/Parker Dam
A bunch of things come together to make this an interesting site. The world’s deepest dam holds back Lake Havasu, the shores of which are dotted with verdant golf courses and resort communities. It’s also the point of origin for two important aqueducts that deliver water to Los Angeles and Phoenix.
wikipedia page (dam)

wikipedia page (reservoir)

A weird little resort community sprung up on the shores of this reservoir.
Biosphere 2
Earth is “Biosphere 1.”
So from this we learned that a complex and balanced closed ecosystem is beyond our ability to engineer.
The idea was to create a miniature earth inside a greenhouse and see if people could survive there. As you can probably imagine, the endeavor was a failure.
Silver Lakes Development
A residential development “nestled” in the Mojave with two manmade lakes almost completely surrounded by single-family homes. The microorganisms thriving in the stagnant water are just one reason why such ventures are ill-conceived.
The microorganisms that make bathing unpleasant proving once again that establishing lakes in the desert is a poor course of action.

Silver Lakes is a large housing development near Helendale, next to the Mojave River, where two artificial lakes contain numerous bulldozed peninsulas and inlets, maximizing the number of house lots with shore frontage. Like many of the artificial lakes in the desert, the stagnant water at Silver Lakes has developed micro-organisms that make bathing unpleasant.

You could send the paper announcements from the road, a few at a time.

Really excellent painter $10 per hour.
I only wanna be your one life stand… tell me do you stand by your man?
Also, get that track from Geller—if it’s good enough for an advert you could do a lo-fi intro


Train passing as audio test
So I thought to myself, what am I doing when the most people are paying attention to me? Dancing.
One life stand dance advert
Pop culture
Your best moves
Inside and outside scenes—splice back and forth
Tight shots, wide shots.
Multiple locations
Primal scream as recorder audio test sample.
Pick the single most interesting fact and paraphrase

Cynthia Hopper

Industrial waterways

Horizontally linear shots with centrally composed vanishing points that cross dissolve into each other.
Cynthia Hopper’s recent work follows the courses of several highly managed industrial waterways. An exhibition featuring seven of her films opens January 22 at CLUI.

Music Video locations:
Painting – the end of the living room.



113 between the lanes

bicycling- you need eric for this.

maybe all central composition vanishing point shots.

on being scrappy
on campfires with the homeless youth of Davis. On learning from them.
At least two of ClUI’s land use sites are out of date

Treehugger Staff:


So I thought you should hear about a project that’s right up Treehugger’s ally. There’s this artist (me actually) that wants to roam around the planet ** and take pictures of power plants, mines, boneyards, farmers markets, alt. energy projects and more! I think it might just be a look at the next chapter in ultralowenergy living habits embedded in a cross-country bicycle tour. What more could you ask for?—right? Seriously. Oh, I wanted to say, great job on that “vote for the newest and coolest green cars” piece. Thanks for the work you put in on that one. Might want to reign it in a bit on the free advertising though: wouldn’t want people to think you’d become automobile sales people or something equally preposterous.


Here’s a link to the project’s ‘about’ page:


and the homepage:


So yeah, please take a look if you will darlings.


Thanks eversomuch


Brett Tracy
** by bicycle

You could submit a tip about this artist that’s written a threatening letter to a high traffic “GREEN™" news website.

when you ask for a girl’s number you’re asking something of her right from the start when you could be giving the (assumed) “gift” that is your number.—hopefully it turns out to be for her sake.

[documenting the decline of western industrial civilization]

Mr. Coolidge, it would be a shame if this didn’t happen.
Dumpstered university student brewed Oktoberfest beer that someone threw out a whole case of. I actually got pretty buzzed drinking it.

Enjoying the sexual tension in the awkward silence

Basically I want to become collapse proof to demonstrate that it can be done and I want you, who are not collapse proof, to pay for it
Always just trying to make out what people are thinking.
Post on eric’s monitor when it gets going
Vid: foggy dusk pinkish grey—shot of fire ring from top of water tower—does golriz have this image?
So as of tonight I can add sickly and self-loathing to my list of undesirable qualities.

Removed January 19 for Treehugger resubmit: (replaced Feb. 1)

"Take Ecstasy with Me"

Yes, we're aware those aren't pills. They're mushroom chocolates: the alternate option for this incredible gift. Brett will do his hair all fancy futuristic and the two of you will take drugs someplace dramatic. An opportunity that's not to be passed up! Listen to this tune and consider it.

$100/Bunker Fuel Level

Stage Three PDF Flier selection:
Ear—an auditory adventure

Campfire from water tower

Factory illustration from book

Blue room—general

The oil well—general
It looks like we’ll be deferring the departure until February 5. Eri—oops! (Sorry Eric). E’s rims won’t show up on time and we’ve decided to complete and properly document a construction project we started some weeks ago (more on this later). Meanwhile, E and I have begun the transition out of civilized society by taking middle of the night conditioning rides in full rain gear. In addition to working a series of neighborhood strength building stations (monkey bars) into the training loop, we’ve incorporated little mission objectives like make an audio recording or locate and purchase an obscure type of battery, all while soaked, cold and borderline delirious.
Actually, the pressure of the last session set off some minor controversy. Eric has been all about imposing systems for streamlining our riding: hand signals and positioning protocols. I’ve resisted, arguing that such things should evolve out of necessity. Also, I know from the first leg with Joe that when two people ride together for days on end, they naturally fall into synch, anticipating each other’s movements, communicating with subtle body language.
Also, because of it’s intelligence and propensity for play, as well as the slippery streamlined look provided by our waterproof shoe booties, the dolphin has been designated the ride’s official power animal.

Would you circulate this announcement (and associated PDF and JPG attachments) via the regular channels?
Thanks Love,

Brett Tracy (class of ’08)

Friends and Colleagues:
The Illuminated Thread, my multi-year bicycle-mounted research endeavor, is about to make its long awaited return. Taking an extended last look at the industrial age, we’ll witness the wonder and tragedy of a world built with phenomenal amounts of fossil energy.
Stage Three, scheduled to begin February 5, follows a wandering route through the remote desert southwest connecting three of the country’s most car dependent suburban metroplexes: LA, Phoenix, and Houston. I’ll visit an abandoned solar array, sprawling aircraft boneyards, open-pit copper mines and an 80,000-acre sludge ranch just to name a few.
here’s the ‘about’ page:
Also, please get in tough with questions or feedback. If any ambitious art historians want to write about this, I’d be honored.
Please see attached press release and image.
Geller has it in for you. Stop falling into her traps.
Selling DVDs street side is an interesting prospect because of end civ and its unwanted information. “Yeah, this guy on the street sold me a vid on destroying refineries.”
To retrieve:


Atlas Sound, Beach House, Caribou Tour CD, Liars, Friends Grizzly Bear EP

VGA-DVI converter


Books: Ishmael, World Made by Hand, and Dorian Grey


Two Radiohead singles

You should try for five media outlets per day.

KunstlerCast #96
Utica NY—population ruptured off the face of the planet.

Abandoned Ski Resort- NY

The road trip: liberate from the routines or your everyday life. The freedom of the open road.
Hostage to the time you’re living in
Excitement about the recovery and bounce back of small towns—revitalization.
Motoring as an empty exercise.
I apologize for being harsh with my request. I meant no disrespect. The problem was that after politely requesting my disks’ safe return, you presented me with nothing but blank-faced indifference (twice). Not cool. I needed you to know that their return by your own accord was long overdue and that it was upsetting to discover them, loose of their cases no less. I’m aware you view such things as trivial (and in the scheme of things they are), but it isn’t up to you to set the value of objects for other people. Those are some of the last CD’s I’m likely to purchase and many have strong memories and emotions tied to them. For example, Katie bought that Caribou tour CD for me at a show we went to. I was seriously pissed at myself for having lost it—a consequence of your forgetfulness.
Also, lets not use that “I’ll leave you alone in the desert” threat. To begin with, it’s empty and meaningless. If we really are in the thick of it, you can’t leave me any more than I can leave you. Remember, we’re carrying things we share. If we’re somewhere where it’s cool (from a safety standpoint) for you to bail, you’re perfectly welcome to do so. I’ve been out on the road alone before so be assured, the tour will continue with or without you. I’m excited to have you along, but not with the constant threat of abandonment looming overhead.

Lastly, this may be a good time to mention something that’s been a problem for me in the past. What I do on the road is work. This is my career. I went to school for this, spent heaps of money (as you’re finding out) on equipment to do this. Of course my highest priority is maintaining our safety and health, but beyond that it’s getting the recordings. If I were to pick a route for a scenic pleasure ride it wouldn’t be this one. What I’m awkwardly trying to convey here is that I can’t worry about whether or not you’re enjoying yourself—whether or not you’re having a fulfilling experience. I encourage you to be honest and open about how you’re feeling, physically and emotionally, but I’ll take zero responsibility for the latter. This was a big problem on the first leg as I wasted considerable energy confirming Joe’s satisfaction with how things were going. Bicycle touring evokes the full range from absolute misery to untold bliss. Please prepare yourself for both.

If you want the bicycle loop to be part of Saturday’s events, figure out what time it should begin and end (if the bonfire starts at twilight (around 5:30 or six) and get in touch with the Bike Church dude(s). What do they need from us in terms of publicity materials, what formats, whatever…
I think that’s it. Oh, if that Grizzly Bear disk is around do bring it by.
Donation Gifts to Add:
Circle K Charity Calendars with receipt

This Document

the illuminated thread stage three sendoff event
saturday, january 30, 2010
4:00 – bike the loop

Starting at Davis Little League Park (Covell Blvd. & F St.), we’ll bike our 14-mile training loop one last time. Come do it with us!

6:00 – brownlands bonfire

We built a fire ring at an abandoned industrial site. Come get cozy under a full moon. We’re grillin’ so bring something to throw over the coals.

From Davis Little League Park call 530.902.9300 to be escorted in.

[note: the Davis Brownlands is private property. Although we don’t anticipate trouble, trespass at your own risk. Consider this cancelled if it rains.]
10:00 – aftergathering/danceparty

Houses without furniture are great for parties. Brett’s on the decks.

3305 Chesapeake Bay Ave. (a.k.a. “The Plex”)
Davis Little League Park on Google maps

The Plex on Google maps

People to see before departure:

Brett CC


Add to mailing list:
For bonfire:

30th birthday

explain the fire ring project—haven’t built something with my hands lately.

not a fundraiser

I’d like to thank Edith, the wheelbarrow—very stoic.
Brownlands Spiral:
I made it most of the way through the landscape architecture program at UC Davis before I realized I was an artist and changed majors. This project may have something to do with that part of my history coming back to haunt me. It had been awhile since I built something substantial—something with a degree of permanence—using my body and my mind. It was great working outside for a change.
Eric and I set out to construct an outdoor gathering space within the fences of the Davis Brownlands—a feral space once occupied by a Hunt’s Cannery. The property is owned by a developer that gave up on developing it so technically
Many discussions on making unauthorized improvements to owned land.
About the design:
Putting the hearth at the center was an obvious decision. The spiral motif evolved naturally. I like it because it’s a shape found in nature-- so universal (like a circle or a line) that it carries no specific cultural signifiers. The spiral provides seating at varied distances from the hearth it’s possible to find that ideal distance from the flames.
Presented it as a gift to the community leaving it stocked with firewood and ready
On the race to document the space between storms
It had been a while since I put my physical labor into making something outdoors.

Maybe this is my history with landscape architecture coming back to haunt me.

To create an outdoor space—an outdoor room—with a hearth—a place for fires basically. A gathering space— for ceremonial rituals?

Spiral a universal symbol—like a line or a circle—found in nature and in all human cultures going way back.

  1. Built entirely out of materials found within the property’s fence.

  2. Built with simple hand tools—shovel, saw, broom, bucket (wheelbarrow on site)—this was also a practical necessity since there was no power available.

  3. Had to work with the space—integrate whatever built with existing features—so no ripping out saplings, no deeper than superficial excavation.

I like how the finest materials, the rarest, the easiest to build fine grained complexity with are concentrated in the center and give way to cruder more common materials as the spiral continues outward. From steel to concrete rubble.

It was nice building something outside—with my hands for a change—something in the “real world” something substantial that may be around for a long time. Also, after two weeks of rain the site was beautiful—reflective puddles—brilliant green moss patches--
I present it to the community—here’s this space you’re welcome to use whenever—I built it for you. Handed it over Saturday night officially.
Plan to work on it whenever I return to town—to keep the ‘improvements’ going. Substantial garden, net inside the tower, more substantial structures—probably also made of carefully assembled rubble. Water collection/filtration, maybe try and snare a rabbit. Maybe even move in for a bit.
Brownlands settlement piece:
Introduce the piece with shots of the fire ring and the slow pinkish grey fire pullout shot.
Slowly develop the site using human muscle power and simple tools.

While squatting the property

More permanent structures constructed

Trash removed/graffiti covered


Water collection projects

Water tower improvements—net, rope

Transforming the brownlands site into a mythic ruin—what goes on there now will become a part of its legacy—but for it to mean anything they’d have to plant gardens, build livable structures, hunt a bit, subsist on that parcel almost entirely.

Let me take you on a tour of this site (from up here) as I see it 50 years from now.
You could always get really deep into the brownlands project as a backup—would tie in nicely with the squatting midway studios piece.
You could get John Edwards to do a story on it.
Squatting—owned property.
Just start living there—put in a garden, chop wood, build structures—slowly develop it by hand—and document the entire process.
Do a Kickstarter campaign to hand-develop the brownlands site with only materials found on site. Tools brought in OK.
Shots of you hunting

Slipping effortlessly through the gap in the fence—the legal frontier.

Voiceover narration.
I like how gene includes this disclaimer with her description of the project:

While the end of the industrial age might not be an accepted fact, Brett sees evidence everywhere that humans are coming to the end of their industrial phase. He imagines that a more ecologically aware human-scale era will replace it.”

Images for John Edwards—caption info—on CD

Mail CD to Gene.
Calendar additions:
Thai out Friday

John Edwards 3:00 Monday

Tuesday: John: 12:00, Edith: 3:00, REI, Brett’s for dinner, Lipstick

Golriz Monday or Tuesday

Document fire ring

Get Brett’s images from Saturday

Online backup!

Print more DVDs

Sendoff post: Wayne Tillcock—enterprise photographer

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