Running On Empty - L.A. Without Cars


Here's the video by Ross Ching, Running On Empty, that Bill Barol referred to here a couple weeks ago. I think it's a great bit of provocative future fiction showing the vast topologies of the Los Angeles roadway infrastructure absolutely free of automotive traffic. Perhaps a sudden, massive lifestyle change has ended car use. Or a Peak Oil soft landing, or personal teleportation devices have gone mainstream, or the Rapture came and somebody lost the list of sinners and just decided to take everyone... I like to imagine this vision rolled forward 20 years when vegetation has overtaken all the useless hardscaping, no doubt matched by some Jumanji-type unleashing of large fauna across the sprawl.

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  1. Neat! I thought this was a repost of this, but it turns out it’s an unrelated project illustrating the same concept.

    Can guest editors include a “Previously” section?

  2. Visiting ancient ruined cities, such as Pompeii and Petra, I sort of get this feeling. You see the empty buildings and the streets just filled with tourists and people selling souvenirs to them. You miss the vibrancy that these cities once were, the people, the non-stone buildings, the vendors. There should be a “colonial Williamsburg/Old Sterbridge Village” for ancient Roman cities. Maybe in a few hundred years there will be a “colonial Williamsburg” for millenial L.A.

  3. what a great video. but hey: “look mommy, there’s an airplane up in the sky!”

    .~.

  4. I was in London on the 21 July 2005, walking to Kings Cross, along with hundreds of commuters. The North Circular was closed to traffic, and people were wandering over all six lanes- it was like something out of J. G. Ballard.

  5. I don’t think all that “hardscaping” would be useless in this scenario, Chris. The roadway would still be an infrastructure that’d connect almost every building to every other building. We could lay down humongous cables over it that’d be some future iteration of the Internet.

  6. I still see lawns in this future scenario presentation. You don’t get much more useless than that kind of ornamental landscaping.

  7. Voice over: “Where is everyone?”
    “Is it the end of the world?”
    “No!”
    “They’re at Chile’s all you can eat Rib Fest!”
    “So come on down to Chile’s.”
    “Don’t be left alone.”

  8. I found it amusing (and ironic, even) that in the very last shot, you can see the oil wells in the background, merrily pumping away in timelapse high-speed, as if in the hope that someday, someone will once again find a use for the internal combustion engine.

  9. But where are the people and animals?
    This isn’t a automobile-free future, this is a wasteland.

  10. While this is an interesting thought experiment it appears that Ching buys into the fallacy of natural equals devoid of humans. Where are all the people walking, or cycling on all of that roadway? Devoid of cars great, devoid of any life a bit creepy and unrealistic.

  11. If I caught a glimpse of a future car-less world but one in which Sex and the City movies are still being churned out, than I would conclude that our civilization clearly failed for reasons different than what we expected.

  12. Huh- vehicles aren’t the only thing missing. Perhaps the zombie apocalypse took out every last vertebrate organism.

  13. While this is an interesting thought experiment it appears that Ching buys into the fallacy of natural equals devoid of humans. Where are all the people walking, or cycling on all of that roadway? Devoid of cars great, devoid of any life a bit creepy and unrealistic.

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