Another Day in Paradise

Overview Installation Video Essay

Palms furnish food, shelter, clothing, oils, waxes, timber, fuel, building materials, fibers, starch, wines, soap, brooms, mats, hats, sugar, wine, vinegar, baskets…

Preserved Palms
The look, the color, texture and even the fragrances are maintained. The process replaces natural plant fluid with a preservative. The trunk of the preserved tree is hollow. The result is a realistic plant environment constructed to specific measurements.
Watering, pest control, auxiliary lighting, skylights, replacement due to plant mortality or due to outgrowing of space, special planters… are no longer necessary. Architects and designers can now plan the palm trees in the projected environment and design the height, shape and type of tree which will be used.

The Installation
Three preserved palm trees with integrated monitors.

The first palm plays a continuous loop of a video. We see the architectural surface of Orange County and hear the story of Vi Vuong, a Ph.D. student at UC Irvine. This is the surface.

“Another Day in Paradise” is the motto of the city of Irvine in Orange County, California. Incorporated in 1971, it is renowned as one of the largest, most successfully planned communities in the nation. Here, we can glimpse into the future living environments – an ideal represented. Our town circa 1993. An hour’s drive south of Los Angeles, past Disneyland, the Nixon Library and John Wayne Airport, the American Dream personified. Inspired by Disneyland, this model city is carefully studied by developers and architects from around the world.

Only ten minutes away are the nation’s preeminent shopping malls – Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza and it is a major magnet for international business, the prototype of the new multinational city. The chairman of the Irvine Company who practically owns the town, calls the Irvine property his “raw canvas” and plans to devote the rest of his life to its development. A spectacular 100sq. mile canvas just waiting to be filled with the familiar landmarks of the late 20th century commercial civilization – office parks, housing tracts and shopping malls, crisscrossed by highways.

Vi Vuong fled with a group of other fourteen year olds on a boat at the urging of their mothers who didn’t want them to grow up to die to finally land at John Wayne airport. An estimated of 600 000 of “boat people” have drowned trying the similar route of escape. Oddly, the largest Vietnamese community settled in Orange County next door to the Nixon library.

1993 marks twenty years since the “end” of war with Vietnam. Since then it has been a subject of thousands of books, articles and scores of motion pictures and documentaries. And yet, this country has still not come to grips with the idea that it has actually lost the first technowar.

The second palm has hidden surveillance cameras in the trunk and the monitors mirror the viewer and the immediate surroundings. It is silent.

Dislocation of People – Dislocation of Nature

The third tree is interactive with an integrated computer which allows the viewer to “scratch” below the surface. This palm houses a collaborative effort with excerpts of “Monkeybone Take Me Home” and “The Sacred and Toxic” by Sean Kilcoyne and excerpts of a work in progress “Re-Orientation / Vietnam Voyage” by Kathy Brew. The media emblems of the Vietnam War are challenged by images of people who are trying to pick up the pieces and go on with their lives.

Technical Support

Graphix Zone, Irvine, CA
Video Editing

Sony Corporation
Surveillance Cameras and Monitors

Multimedia Design Corporation, Irvine, CA
Interactive programming and hardware

Silicon Graphics, Irvine, CA
3D Objects for video

Preserved Treescapes International, Carlsbad, CA
Construction of trees with integrated monitors