LASA Learns about Tech in L.A.


LASA ventured into the worlds of technology and pine forests in September to consider the history and future of high tech Los Angeles.

Departing from the Huntington, LASA traveled up to Mt. Wilson Observatory. As the bus weaved its way up the mountain and the temperature dropped, we considered how close the Observatory is and yet how many of us had not ventured up to visit it before. At the top, guides Robert Anderson and Tim Thompson greeted us and we walked through the trees to the first structure.

Jillian shared, “It is strange that I have never heard of [Mt. Wilson] before, since during our visit I. . .learned so many famous people not only were there, but also studied and made some of science’s most important discoveries. What I enjoyed most about our visit to the Mt. Wilson Observatory is the fact that our guide would tell us stories of these scientists, especially those that demonstrated the arrogance of Edwin Hubble and the unusual circumstances of a German scientist who was able to make a profound discovery because of historical context- because of possible Japanese threat, Los Angeles went dark for much of the time, allowing for the scientist to observe the universe clearer.” As we boarded the bus and headed back to the Huntington, we took in Los Angeles from above.

At the Huntington, Tracy Fullerton – Director of the USC Game Innovation Lab – joined us and presented her award-winning game Walden. Based on Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, the digital game allows players to take walks in the pine forest around Walden Pond, plant and tend food, visit the local post office, and listen to portions of the text as well as portions of Thoreau’s letters. Tracy shared how Thoreau’s Walden has meant different things to her over the years. And Jose reflected, “We learned about why she made the game to [immerse] the player more into the story than the book would do. We talk[ed] about how it isn’t always fun and games when it comes to video games. It takes a lot of time to develop these types of games.”

As we closed the day, we realized we had considered high tech Los Angeles both historically and through present-day work and we had spent the day in the pine trees – both physically and digitally.


Photos courtesy of Victoria Bernal.