Jewel at Playa Vista

ann haeyoung

This video shows a person interacting with a palm tree suspended in a semi-transparent sphere to audio from a tour of a luxury home in Los Angeles’ “Silicon Beach” (Playa Vista) neighborhood.

Most palm trees we see in Los Angeles today are non-native species that were imported by European colonists. The settlers murdered and imprisoned the indigenous stewards of the land, and claimed that land was virginal, “untouched,” and in need of their intervention to be productive. Their touch destroyed an ecosystem in balance with its human inhabitants.

The majority of LA’s palms were planted in the 1800s by developers as a marketing ploy to entice white people to move to Southern California. Palms became a symbol of wealth, luxury, and leisure. The natural plains and wetlands of what is now Los Angeles became carpeted in manicured and unsustainable landscaping.

The palm seedling in the video is trapped within a translucent globe, still green but already dead because of it’s exposed roots. Like the plants in L.A., it’s been uprooted from it’s home and placed on display. While at first it seems like the hands are trying to care for and water the plant, it becomes clear they’re only polishing it’s container.