Steve Rowell

Terminal Island

In collaboration with the Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Terminal Island is an artificial landmass in the heart of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and was the subject of an exhibit at the CLUI Los Angeles from March 31 to May 30th, 2005.

The exhibit looked at Terminal Island as a sort of organismic, flowing, landscape machine – it churns and disgorges wastes in its treatment plant, and grinds up metals in its scrap yards. Fluids course through pipelines under its skin, while ships of crude pump in to it, and suck out of it. Its extremities are a bouquet of dead ends, of society pushed to the limits, with prisons, coast guards, piers and ground up riprap.

As the center of the largest port in the Americas, the nation’s economy flows across its thousands of acres of asphalt, in the form of digitized cubes of material trade, in twenty and forty foot equivalences. It was for this, more than anything, that the island grew out of the ocean, an extension of the continental reach towards the orient.

Its scale is beyond sensation by the senses, and its functions exceed the imaginations of our daily lives. Terminal Island is like a fictional place made real by the collective will of America.

This landscape machine is composed of five separate terminal activities that occur on the island:

  1. importation
  2. exportation
  3. excretion
  4. deportation 
  5. expulsion 

Each one of these activities was described in text, and depicted through video captured by CLUI personnel over the months prior to the exhibit.







CLUI LOTL newsletter article