Lions Live Here

Riah Buchanan, University of Washington, Seattle, WA / Los Angeles, CA

ABSTRACT (ready for dissemination. 200 words maximum):

The Santa Monica Mountains were protected from development by the National Parks Bill signed into law by Jimmy Carter in 1978. The range is surrounded by freeways and traversed by major roadways. These roads parallel and sometimes exactly trace the route of Spanish explorers installing the first Missions, which in turn traced trading routes established by the Chumash, Kitanemuk, Yokut and Tongva, which in turn traced animal paths, which were themselves made obvious by the passage of many animals following one another. In this way the fauna have unknowingly set the boundaries they now seek to surmount. The largest among them, the mountain lion, is one of the most affected. Male lions are territorial – shared space is a liability. P22 (puma tagged 22) crossed the 405 and the 101, taking up residence in Griffith Park. P33 and her brother P32 crossed the 101; the lions are seeking to redraw their territory. But for P32, subsequently killed by a motorist on the 5, the hard boundaries of the roads were definitive. P18 and P09 were also hit by cars and killed. This feedback loop can still be modified. Over with a bridge, under with a tunnel, humans may slowly provide a new trace.


This project is a website that engages the human population of Los Angeles and nearby areas with the activities of local predators, specifically mountain lions. It is a visual representation of a family tree and the killing, inbreeding and untimely deaths within its branches. See the site at



Riah Buchanan received a BA in Psychology from Carleton College and an MFA in 2D Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her early artistic practice was an exploration of psychological theories, specifically Terror

Management Theory, or the idea that when fear of death is made salient, humans act in predictable ways. Stemming from this, her work at Cranbrook employed techniques common in both design and in scientific study, such as interviewing subjects, forming and testing hypotheses, and categorizing and creating visual systems. This work often used physical space as a metaphor for psychological space. Since graduating her work has employed the use of several personas; she has performed lectures as a founding father, an anthropologist, an ecologist, and a park ranger, respectively. Her work has been exhibited at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), George Mason University, A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Chime and Co. and Eyebeam. She has been published in Eros magazine in London,, and Kulturfolger, a publication based in Zurich.


Balance-Unbalance 2017

Balance-Unbalance (BunB)
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

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