The Great Salt Lake Exploration Platform (GSLEP) enables visual and performative research to occur within the vastly under explored landscape of the Great Salt Lake. It allows people to spend periods of time on the lake to examine issues as broad as environmental indicators, perceptual thresholds, diverse land use, and cultural history from a unique and untapped perspective. It can be difficult to imagine unexploited sites of exploration. The remoteness of the Antarctic, the Eurasian Steppe, and Sub-Saharan Africa have been challenged by the increasing ability of media to access sites, along with new technologies such as remote sensing. Despite these new and outstanding tools, much remains to be examined in our own backyards. The potency of primary research—first-person truth on the ground—remains paramount for architects, artists, and culture-workers operating among the complex realities of the built environment. The Great Salt Lake Desert is America’s backyard: collecting land-uses, building programs, and expounding material history expelled from other parts of the country. The Great Salt Lake is the lowest and most remote portion of this desert—our nation’s entropic sink. As a fundamentally inhospitable landscape (no fish live there), it holds unique and extreme architectural challenges for even temporary occupation.
The GSLEP enables people to remain upon the Great Salt Lake for determinate durations of time, and includes necessary life support and a research infrastructure (shade, fresh water, food and waste storage, solar power, communications, and evacuation provisions), designed to maximize potential. The GSLEP in an ongoing design and fabrication collaboration between Chris Taylor and Steve Badgett, and is available for use by the Center for Land Use Interpretation‘s Gunnison Bay Research Program and other researchers keen to operate on the lake.
Steve Badgett holds a BFA from the University of Illinois, and works as an independent artist on commissions, lectures, projects, and collaborative activities. He is a founding member and primary operator of the SIMPARCH collaborative. The ethos of SIMPARCH seeks to create armatures for social interaction through experimentation with materials and design. Badgett’s practice often involves production of large-scale functional environments that examine building practices, alternative technologies, and site specificity.
Chris Taylor is an architect, educator, and director of Land Arts of the American West at Texas Tech University’s College of Architecture. He studied architecture at the University of Florida and received his MArch from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. In 1998, he was awarded the Steedman Traveling Fellowship by Washington University and spent a year mapping the space between buildings, water, and sky in Venice, Italy. Land Arts is a transdisciplinary field- program investigating the intersection of geomorphology and human construction. It is a semester abroad in our own backyard, where each fall Taylor travels for over fifty days with students across the American southwest, camping while covering six-thousand miles overland to explore the natural and human forces that shape contemporary landscapes, ranging from geology and weather to cigarette butts and hydroelectric dams.