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  • Landscapes of Power

    Molly MASON & Zherui WANG, "Culture Cultures: The Biosentient City."
    princeton NEW JERSEY

    Princeton SoA
    critic: Liam YOUNG.

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Daniele Profeta: Contemporary remote sensing technologies are altering our understanding as well as our relationship with the Landscape. . . .


    Constructing the Landscape
    Contemporary remote sensing technologies are altering our understanding as well as our relationship with the Landscape. A digital record of the surveyed physical surface of the earth is producing a new set of images that shape our perception of the territory, creating truths that establish politics, protocols and economies across the globe. These images, and the meta-data that they contain, become the contemporary site of investigation, in which we can both retroactively analyze change on the surface of the earth and simulate projective forensic futures for specific sites.

    This project collapses heterogeneous forms of data to produce speculative simulations of possible forensic futures. These become an advocacy tool to describe the system of violence exerted through the landscape by an infrastructure plan (the Pan-American project), and they suggest a reading of the patterns of displacement – of people and nature – as a continuation of colonial strategies to maintain a system of power over territory, resources, and ultimately people.

    The structure of Remote Sensing Technologies
    In Guatemala, Satellite imagery and LIDAR scanning are the main technologies that shape this landscape, constructing it from two radically different scales of resolution. By understanding the structure of the thick layer of information embedded in each of these surveying technologies, it is possible to define their biases as a legacy of the way in which they record space. On one hand satellite images cyclically capture multi-layered images of the earth with a threshold of approximately 0.8mt per pixel, reducing the presence of the human body to a single dot; on the other hand, LIDAR surveys record a surface-like space down to its material texture, capturing fractions of a millimeter worth of detail. It is in the gap between these two scales of resolution that we begin to construct our perception of the thick fabric of relations unfolding on the territory. Overcoming the static nature of these artifacts will allow us to assemble chains of actions between material things, large environments, individuals and collective actions.

    Violence exerted through the Landscape
    Ultimately the project highlights the potential of animated drawings to exploit data simulations as well as the meta-data embedded within surveying technologies to model and narrate projective futures. They become a parallel advocacy tool to the vinyl maps and boards used by local communities, as evidence of environmental violence, to expand their borders of resistance. The site of the Chixoy Dam, built between 1976 and 1983, in the midst of the Guatemalan civil war, is analyzed as a retrospective study to project the available data towards a future simulation of the Xalala Dam site, whose imminent construction is endangering the life of communities living along the river Rio Negro.

     

    Additional credits and links:

    Special thanks to: Liam Young; Jamon Van Den Hoek; William Trossel and SCANLAB; Resistencia de los Pueblos; and Alexey Marfin.

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