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The Harsh Beauty and Banality of the 110-105 Interchange – L.A. TACO
[See also: https://www.instagram.com/110_105/ ]

"The 110-105 interchange holds a unique place in the psyche of Los Angeles. I’ve always called it The Cathedral, because it feels like you’re inside one when you’re driving under the towering, chapel-like crests of the ramps connecting the highways. The sounds of speeding engines in trucks and cars amplify against the network of massive concrete pillars sustaining the bridges, so it almost sounds like voices singing from a hymnal.

At all levels the thing is intense. Driving overhead, it almost feels like you’re about to fly through the sky into the downtown skyline when you’re changing from the 105 West to the 110 North. And way underneath, at traffic-lane level, for commuters using the Metro bus and rail transit hub to get around, the setting is stark: extreme noise, exposure to harmful exhaust, and views of encampments in the concrete shadows.

But there are also wondrous aspects to the interchange. Its history is an epic read shaped by a protagonist federal judge named Harry Pregerson, who eventually redefined the process of bringing a massive government works project to an economically depressed and dense urban area, like the South Figueroa Street corridor was in the 1970s. The interchange had starring roles in 1994’s Speed (when the bus leaps over a gap in an unfinished overpass) and last year’s La La Land (the big opening dance number). And for photographer Lindsey Mysse, who began to regularly use the 110-105 transit station on a commute, the interchange offered a window into a side of Los Angeles he never thought he’d get to know.

Mysse is an artist and software developer by day, and in his free-time a devoted documentarian of the interchange with the IG account 110_105. In it Mysse captures the light, colors, and faces he sees in the soaring chapel of the interchange.

I spoke to him recently over the phone about the project. Below is a sample of some of his photos.

All photos by Lindsey Mysse

L.A. TACO: Tell us how the project got started.

Mysse: The specific Instagram account started earlier this year. … Well, really what happened was that I had just come back from New York City, had been dumped by a girl, and my art career had kinda fallen apart. Everyone was pissed at me, and I just needed to get a real job.

I live in San Pedro and I got a job in El Segundo, so I started commuting from San Pedro to El Segundo — the bus, from San Pedro, to get on the Green Line to get to El Segundo — and it was just this ugly, ugly place to me. It represented a defeat in life. It felt like the world was making fun of me. It actually started as a joke. I’d check-in at the 105-110 freeway, and start taking photos of it …

What is this place like, for someone who hasn’t been to the transit station?

It’s very loud, it’s very dirty, because the cars: there’s just chain-link fence between you and the highway. But you also kinda have the people there, they’re just getting to their jobs, there’s that sort of day-to-day negotiation of, How you get around, right?

Last week the trains broke down — it’s the Green Line, the trains are always breaking down — people were negotiating, like, My boss is stricter than your boss, and so on, negotiating who could get on the train because the trains were packed. And it’s democracy in action. That’s how the city works.

It’s one of the most hostile places in L.A. to humans, isn’t it?

I think so. People live there, though, under the 110 and 105. I don’t photograph them, so they tend not to be in my photographs, but yeah, there are people that live there. You see the encampments, how they hide themselves, and it really is shocking. A lot of people drive and just stare straight ahead, and there’s this whole world along the edges.

I take photographs every time I am there … four to six times a week.

What did you end up liking about it?

It’s banality at a grand scale, which is what Los Angeles is all about. If that place is beautiful to you or not is determined by how you feel. It’s your projection on the place, which is very L.A., too. … It’s this blank canvas, and it’s a massive artifact to a way of life that isn’t very sustainable also.

The freeways. You learn so much about the city when you really study them, right?

You find that everywhere in L.A. but most people just filter it out. With something like 110-105, people just drive by and you don’t really contemplate it, what it is or what it means.

What did you learn about this place over time?

I started to pay attention to how the light would change everyday I was there. The colors would always be different. As you go through the year, you get there at different times of dawn or sunset, you get those Southern California sunrises and sunsets and all the colors and how they reflect off the concrete. It really becomes something intriguing to follow."
2017  losangeles  freeways  110  105  danielhernandez  instagram  commuting  transportation  metro  greenline  lindseymysse  photography 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Guerrilla Public Service | 99% Invisible
"At some point in your life you’ve probably encountered a problem in the built world where the fix was obvious to you. Maybe a door that opened the wrong way, or poorly painted marker on the road. Mostly, when we see these things, we grumble on the inside, and then do nothing.

But not Richard Ankrom.

In the early morning of August 5, 2001, artist Richard Ankrom and a group of friends assembled on the 4th Street bridge over the 110 freeway in Los Angeles. They had gathered to commit a crime—one Ankrom had plotted for years.

Twenty years earlier, Ankron, then living in Orange County, was driving north on the 110 freeway. As he passed through downtown Los Angeles, he was going to merge onto another freeway, the I-5 North. But he missed the exit and got lost. And for some reason, this stuck with him.

Years later, when Ankrom moved to downtown Los Angeles, he was driving on the same stretch of freeway where he’d gotten lost before. He looked up at the big green rectangular sign suspended above and realized why he missed the exit all those years ago.

The sign was not adequately marked.

The I-5 exit wasn’t indicated on the green overhead sign. It was clear to Ankrom that, the California Department of Transportation (known as Caltrans) had made a mistake.

Ankrom, an artist and sign painter, decided to make the Interstate 5 North shield himself. He also decided that he would take it upon himself to install it above the 110 freeway.

He would call it an act of “guerrilla public service.

Ankrom started by studying L.A. Freeways signs and holding up pantone swatches to perfectly match the paint color. He dangled over bridges to measure the exact dimensions of other signs.

Most importantly, Ankrom consulted the MUTCD, The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which provides “uniform standards and specifications for all official traffic control devices in California.”

Ankrom wanted his sign to be built to the exact specifications of Caltrans, which were designed to be read by motorists traveling at high speeds. He copied the height and thickness of existing interstate shields, copied their exact typeface, and even sprayed his sign with a thin glaze of overspray of gray house paint so that it wouldn’t look too new.

If he was successful, no one would know that the signs weren’t put up by Caltrans.

As a finishing touch, Ankrom signed his name on the back with a black marker, like a painter signing a canvas.

Then came the next phase of the project: the installation. Ankrom planned it with the precision of a bank heist. He cut his hair, bought some work clothes and a hardhat and an orange vest. He even made a Caltrans contractor-esque decal for his pick-up truck.

He feared he could get arrested, or worse—drop the sign or one of his tools on the cars driving underneath. But he felt it was too late to turn back.

On August 5, 2001, Ankrom parked his truck and went to work. He positioned his ladder over the razor wire and made his way up to the catwalk under the sign, nearly 30 feet above the highway.

The whole installation took less than 30 minutes. As soon as the sign was up, Ankrom packed up his ladder, rushed back to his truck, and blended back into the city.

For about nine months, only a small group of people knew that the Interstate 5 shield hanging above the 110 freeway was a forgery. Then one of Ankrom’s friend leaked the story to a local paper. And that’s how Caltrans found out.

Ankrom had hoped he could get his sign back from Caltrans after they took it down; he figured he would hang it in an art gallery. But Caltrans didn’t take the sign down. His guerrilla sign had passed the Caltrans inspection.

More than eight years after after Ankrom’s sign went up, he got call from a friend who noticed some workers taking it down. It had been replaced with as part of routine maintenance.

When the new sign went up, Caltrans had added the I-5 North shield not only to it, but also to two additional signs up the road.”

[via: https://twitter.com/ablerism/status/566767100556247041 ]
art  publicservice  guerillapublicservice  2015  richardankrom  losangeles  freeways  110  2001  nyc  mta  nycmta  efficientpassengerproject  signs  caltrans 
february 2015 by robertogreco

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