Aug '08 - Jun '10
So last Wednesday, I received an email that has re-arranged my life plans (for the next year and a half at least). I have been announced as one of three winners of the John K. Branner Fellowship, a year-long travel grant ($35,000 award) that the department gives out to students in their final year. The deal is that you travel for the calendar year, returning in January 2010 (that sound so ridiculously far away) to finish your thesis project. So far what I have in mind for thesis (to explore the notion of defensible space in the 21st century) and what I proposed for my traveling fellowship (to look at military spaces, both occupied and reclaimed) are pretty much one and the same objective. Tradition has it that Branner winners, after a soul-searching journey across the globe, come back and do a thesis project quite different from what they planned, and often to far lesser degree of resolution than other students who worked continuously on a thesis that started in the fall.
So, yeah, wow, this is amazing. I'm floored. I hardly know how to handle this thing. It's so immense. Even if I produced a detailed itinerary, there are so many more decisions to make, and so much other stuff I want to see besides the content of the proposal. Here's the map I produced (a modified version of this one)
At a later date I will post my proposal as a PDF in case anyone is curious about the specific itinerary.
and this is the kind of thing I'm going to look at:
an image from a British newspaper about the Maginot line (source: Mallory, Architecture of War)
I'm really fascinated by what Trevor Paglen calls the Black World, basically any military space which is land that you cannot see (or if so, only in a compromised way) nor occupy. I accept that I'm not going to get inside any of these bases, despite how much I want to see the "America Town" of Burger Kings and KFC and whatnot in the middle of a base. So I'm looking not so much at the military space but at the interface between military and civilian space.
Oh, and I'm going to some way-out there spots like the Azores, Guam, Iceland, Okinawa, and the Aleutian Islands....
It will be a trip.
ps, Angel Island is on fire