BENEATH

BENEATH

University of California | Davis

www.ucdavis.edu
530.752.1011
One Shields Ave
Davis, CA 95616


Advisor(s)
Tom Maiorana and Jiayi Young

Team Members
Victoria Chau
Sierra Kennedy
Jessica Lam
Sandra Bae
Zhaohui Zhao
Chen Ma


BENEATH

CONNECT 2017 - UC Davis CONNECT 2017 - UC Davis
(143 KB),  22-Aug-2017 04:09 PM
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The UC Davis submission for CONNECT at SOFA Chicago 2017 is an immersive installation titled, BENEATH. Our Design Department emphasizes social responsibility, human-centered practice and sustainability. So given the opportunity to build an exhibit for an international audience, it felt natural for us to dedicate BENEATH ’s purpose to offering a space of reflection regarding our relationship with Earth’s changing landscape. 

South of UC Davis is the San Joaquin Valley, the geographical and agricultural center of California which continues to sink at an alarming rate. 1 This phenomena known as land subsidence is the gradual settling or sudden sinking of Earth’s surface caused by the overharvesting of groundwater. 2 In the United States alone, more than 17,000 square miles--an area roughly the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined--has been directly linked to land subsidence. 3 Land subsidence and environmental overexploitation driven by industrial, domestic and agricultural users is not a pattern just limited to the boundaries of San Joaquin Valley. On a global scale, half a billion people live in areas affected by land subsidence. Land subsidence is not just a regional problem, it is an international threat. In 2004, Hurricane Katrina caused 80% of New Orleans to flood. 4 The death count rose to well over 1,800 and more than a million people were displaced. 5 Hurricane Katrina is the costliest disaster in the history of the global insurance industry. 6 In 2007, Jakarta, Indonesia experienced catastrophic flooding and left the city inundated for weeks. Population displacement reached up to 200,000 people and roughly 1,400 were hospitalized for waterborne diseases and dengue fever. 7 New Orleans and Jakarta are two coastal cities experiencing some of the highest rates of land subsidence in the world. Cities like New Orleans and Jakarta represent only a fraction of the senseless tragedies that arise from subsidence-driven flooding. To prevent these tragedies, we must collectively recognize and address the driving factors behind our sinking land. 

Land subsidence occurs when aquifers are depleted causing water tables to sink. When rainwater saturates Earth’s layer of permeable rock, aquifers are formed. An aquifer consists of the saturated zone of permeable rock just below the surface known as the water table. Wells are drilled into aquifers to harvest groundwater. In areas where groundwater is pumped out at rates faster than which rain can replenish them, water tables drop. As the layer of permeable rock becomes increasingly unsaturated, it compacts and land subsidence occurs. Despite the undeniable consequences, the public is often unaware of pressing issues regarding land subsidence. We have created a culture that puts environmental problems out of sight and out of mind. 

BENEATH submerges visitors into our experiential interpretation of a subterranean aquifer, creating a space of reflection that forces the issue of land subsidence to the surface. Using a faceted translucent ceiling, low poly reclined seating and projected lighting, our installation urges visitors to gain a new perspective on the land we overlook by facilitating the concept of land subsidence into a palpable concern. 

Staging Details

Approaching our exhibit, soft light shines through our translucent ceiling and spreads along the floor. A handful of reclined chairs invites visitors to pause, sit and elevate their focus. The multifaceted ceiling symbolizes a water table and simulates a sense of encroachment in a cavernous space. The immediacy of our hovering ceiling is designed to provide a sense of urgency from the perspective of an underground aquifer substantially larger than us. 

Seating Details

There are five reclined chairs made of low-poly facets mimicking the folds of the ceiling above. Our chairs trace the wavering heights of the ceiling, giving guests the immersive sensation of inhabiting the space between a water table and impermeable rock. The chairs are designed for disassembly and ease of transportation. 

Lighting Details

The main source of lighting is a video projection that elicits the sense of being underground in an aquifer. We maintain a dim atmosphere enhanced with projected patterns purposed with conveying a dropping water table. Through a deliberate use of lighting and projections to enhance our interpretation of a dark, underground aquifer, our team seeks to reclaim a space that lacks conscientiousness and turn it into a site of active examination.


Sources: 

1. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-central-valley-subsidence-20170209-story.html 

2. https://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthgwlandsubside.html 

3. https://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthgwlandsubside.html 

4. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6267 

5. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/us/hurricane-katrina-statistics-fast-facts/index.html 

6. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/us/hurricane-katrina-statistics-fast-facts/index.html 

7. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/123-a204/#r4

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