The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) is a research organisation established in 1994 in Culver City, Los Angeles by Matthew Coolidge. The largely volunteer run, non-profit organisation is funded through government and private arts grants with the aim of examining the relationships between the physical landscape and its human occupation. This is carried out through an investigation into different land uses, their ownership, and the economic and cultural value associated with parts of the landscape. The work is disseminated through a variety of means including the setting up of databases, publications, exhibitions, lectures and residency programmes, as well as the more unusual format of bus tours and the use of placards and information kiosks. Through these different methods, CLUI raise awareness and stimulate debate about the physical landscape in the US, from vast working factories to abandoned military facilities or sewage treatment works and waste incinerators. Their research uncovers the variety of unusual and often environmentally catastrophic uses that support the lifestyle that we are used to in developed countries.
CLUI's ongoing work includes the Land Use Database, a collection of material including a photographic archive on what they have termed 'exemplary' sites in the US, parts of which are available online. They are also developing the American Land Museum, which will comprise a series of sites across the US, each dealing with its own region and becoming a curatorial hub for various related programmes. CLUI prefer to present themselves as an educational organisation, taking on the role of the impartial expert relating an 'objective' view, a wry stance that allows them to highlight the problematic relationships between the economy and land-use in the US.
'The CLUI Land Use Database', http://ludb.clui.org/ [accessed 8 March 2010].
CLUI, 'The American Land Museum at Wendover, Utah', Cabinet, http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/10/landmuseum.php [accessed 8 March 2010].
Matthew Coolidge, 'You Are Here - Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI)', Vimeo, http://vimeo.com/473168 [accessed 8 March 2010].
Overlook: Exploring the Internal Fringes of America with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, ed. by Matthew Coolidge and Sarah Simons (New York: Metropolis Books, 2006).
On the Banks of Bayou City: The Center for Land Use Interpretation in Houston, ed. by Rachel Hooper and Nancy Zastudil (Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston, 2009).
Matthew Coolidge, 'Landscape is a Metaphor', in Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism, ed. by Nato Thompson, Independent Curators International (New York: Melville House Publishing, 2008), pp. 43-47.
Kurt Mueller, 'Center for Land Use Interpretation', Frieze Magazine, 2009, http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/center_for_land_use_interpretation/ [accessed 8 March 2010].
John Strausbaugh, 'Take Nature, Add Humans, Observe Results', The New York Times, 24 September 2006, section Arts / Art & Design, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/arts/design/24stra.html?ref=design [accessed 8 March 2010].
"But in the museum of the American Land, the material artifacts
are places and spaces, and they cannot be housed in a vitrine. The
answer is the bus tour; creating a museum atmosphere inside the bus
bubble, and taking it out to the land. The bus is the
vitrine (and the tourists are part of the subject, too)."
- Matthew Coolidge, 'Landscape is a Metaphor', in Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism, ed. by Nato Thompson, Independent Curators International (New York: Melville House Publishing, 2008), p. 43.
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