robertogreco + geology   38

What’s under the trees? LIDAR exposes the hidden landscapes of forested areas.
[References: https://wadnr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=36b4887370d141fcbb35392f996c82d9 ]

"The Washington State Geological Survey is using LIDAR technology to study the geology of the land hidden under forested areas of the state. LIDAR is like radar, but instead of bouncing radio waves off of objects to detect their distances, you use lasers. When you shoot laser light at a forested area, most of it is reflected back by the trees. But some of it reaches the ground, so by measuring the light that’s reflected back from the lowest point, you get a very accurate map of the bare earth, sans nature. Using the LIDAR maps, they can study the course changes in rivers, landslides, volcanic lava flows, earthquake faults & fault zones, tsunami inundation zones, and glaciers.

The beautiful photo at the top is a LIDAR image of the Sauk River and all its current and former channels…the bluish tint makes it look like an x-ray, which it pretty much is. It also reminds me of the meander maps of the Mississippi River made by Harold Fisk for the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Here are two images of Bainbridge Island:

[images]

The LIDAR image clearly shows a horizontal earthquake fault scarp that’s completely hidden by the ground cover.

These two images are of drumlins left behind by a glacier:

[images]

Again, the LIDAR image shows the movement of a long-gone glacier with stunning clarity compared to the satellite photo with ground cover."
washingtonstate  geography  geology  maps  mapping  2017  lidar  flaciers  bainbridgeisland 
february 2018 by robertogreco
A Tapestry of Time and Terrain | USGS I-2720
[via: https://kottke.org/17/11/a-tapestry-of-time-and-terrain ]

"Introduction
Through computer processing and enhancement, we have brought together two existing images of the lower 48 states of the United States (U.S.) into a single digital tapestry. Woven into the fabric of this new map are data from previous U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maps that depict the topography and geology of the United States in separate formats. The resulting composite is the most detailed and accurate portrait of the U.S. land surface and the ages of its underlying rock formations yet displayed in the same image. The new map resembles traditional 3-D perspective drawings of landscapes with the addition of a fourth dimension, geologic time, which is shown in color. This union of topographic texture with the patterns defined by units of geologic time creates a visual synthesis that has escaped most prior attempts to combine shaded relief with a second characteristic shown by color, commonly height above sea level (already implicit in the shaded relief). In mutually enhancing the landscape and its underlying temporal structure, this digital tapestry outlines the geologic story of continental collision and break-up, mountain-building, river erosion and deposition, ice-cap glaciation, volcanism, and other events and processes that have shaped the region over the last 2.6 billion years

The Terrain
One of this map's two components is a digital shaded-relief image that shows the shape of the land surface by variations in brightness. The degree of light and dark artificially mimics the intensity of the Sun's light on different types of topography.

Geologic Time
The second component of this tapestry, color, represents geologic time and is simplified from the geologic map of King and Beikman. Rocks contain information essential to an intelligent understanding of the Earth and its long natural history. Geologists determine the location, geographic extent, age, and physical and chemical characteristics of rocks and unconsolidated (loose) materials"
geology  maps  mapping  time  data  earth  classideas  usgs 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Mind of John McPhee - The New York Times
"Much of the struggle, for McPhee, has to do with structure. “Structure has preoccupied me in every project,” he writes, which is as true as saying that Ahab, on his nautical adventures, was preoccupied by a certain whale. McPhee is obsessed with structure. He sweats and frets over the arrangement of a composition before he can begin writing. He seems to pour a whole novel’s worth of creative energy just into settling which bits will follow which other bits.

The payoff of that labor is enormous. Structure, in McPhee’s writing, carries as much meaning as the words themselves. What a more ordinary writer might say directly, McPhee will express through the white space between chapters or an odd juxtaposition of sentences. It is like Morse code: a message communicated by gaps."



"“Draft No. 4” is essentially McPhee’s writing course at Princeton, which he has been teaching since 1975. This imposes a rigid structure on his life. During a semester when he teaches, McPhee does no writing at all. When he is writing, he does not teach. He thinks of this as “crop rotation” and insists that the alternation gives him more energy for writing than he would otherwise have.

McPhee’s students come to his office frequently, for editing sessions, and as they sit in the hallway waiting for their appointments, they have time to study a poster outside his door. McPhee refers to it as “a portrait of the writer at work.” It is a print in the style of Hieronymus Bosch of sinners, in the afterlife, being elaborately tortured in the nude — a woman with a sword in her back, a small crowd sitting in a vat of liquid pouring out of a giant nose, someone riding a platypus. The poster is so old that its color has faded.

David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, where McPhee has been a staff writer for more than 50 years, took McPhee’s class in 1981. “There was no fancy discussion of inspiration,” he told me. “You were in the room with a craftsman of the art, rather than a scholar or critic — to the point where I remember him passing around the weird mechanical pencils he used to use. It was all about technique. In the same spirit that a medical student, in gross anatomy, would learn what a spleen is and what it does, we would learn how stuff works in a piece of writing.”

Much of that stuff, of course, was structure. One of Remnick’s enduring memories is of watching Professor McPhee sketch out elaborate shapes on the chalkboard. One looked like a nautilus shell, with thick dots marking points along its swirl. Each of these dots was labeled: “Turtle,” “Stream Channelization,” “Weasel.” Down the side of the chart it said, simply, “ATLANTA.” An arrow next to the words “Rattlesnake, Muskrat, etc.” suggested that the swirl was meant to be read counterclockwise."



"John McPhee lives, and has almost always lived, in Princeton. I met him there in a large parking lot on the edge of campus, next to a lacrosse field, where he stood waiting next to his blue minivan. He wore an L.L. Bean button-down shirt with khaki pants and New Balance sneakers. The top half of his face held glasses, the bottom a short white beard that McPhee first grew, unintentionally, during a canoe trip in the 1970s and has not shaved off since. He is soft-spoken, easy and reserved. Although McPhee possesses intimidating stores of knowledge — he told me, as we walked around campus, the various geological formations that produced the stone used in the buildings — he seems to go out of his way to be unintimidating. Whenever we stepped outside, he put on a floppy hat.

McPhee proceeded to show me every inch of Princeton, campus and city, narrating as we went. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone so thoroughly identified with a place. His memories are archaeological, many layers deep. Not 30 seconds into our orienting drive, we passed the empty lot where he used to play tackle football as a child, and where, at age 10, he first tasted alcohol. (“One thing it wasn’t was unpleasant,” he wrote recently.) The lot is no longer empty; it is occupied by a new house, boxy and modern. I asked McPhee if he felt any animosity toward the structure for stomping out his memories.

“No,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of stomping grounds stomped out.”

McPhee was born in 1931. His father was the university’s sports doctor, and as a boy McPhee galloped after him to practices and games. By age 8, he was running onto the field alongside Princeton’s football team, wearing a custom-made miniature jersey. He played basketball in the old university gym, down the hall from his father’s office; when the building was locked, he knew which windows to climb in. McPhee was small and scrappy, and he played just about every sport that involved a ball. To this day, he serves as a faculty fellow of men’s lacrosse, observing Princeton’s practices and standing on the sidelines during games.

Every summer growing up, McPhee went to a camp in Vermont called Keewaydin, where his father was the camp doctor. One of his grandsons goes there today. (“I have 200 grandchildren,” McPhee told me; the number is actually 10.) McPhee speaks of Keewaydin as paradise, and his time there established many of the preoccupations of his life and work: canoeing, fishing, hiking. “I once made a list of all the pieces I had written in maybe 20 or 30 years, and then put a check mark beside each one whose subject related to things I had been interested in before I went to college,” he writes in “Draft No 4.” “I checked off more than 90 percent.” Keewaydin put McPhee into deep contact with the American land, and introduced him to the challenge of navigation — how the idealized abstractions of plans and maps relate to the fertile mess of the actual world. The camp’s infirmary is now officially named after McPhee’s father. McPhee’s own name still sits in the rafters, an honor for having been the second-most-accomplished camper in 1940, when he was 9."



"McPhee is a homebody who incessantly roams. He inherited Princeton and its Ivy League resources as a kind of birthright, but he comes at the place from an odd angle: He was not the son of a banker or a politician or some glamorous alumnus but of the sports doctor. His view of the university is practical, hands-on — it is, to him, like a big intellectual hardware store from which he can pull geologists and historians and aviators and basketball players, as needed, to teach him something. He is able to run off to Alaska or Maine or Switzerland or Keewaydin because he always knows where he is coming back to.

“I grew up in the middle of town,” McPhee said. “It’s all here.”

McPhee took me to his office in the geology building, in a fake medieval turret that, before he moved in, was crowded with paint cans. Now its walls are full of maps: the Pacific Ocean floor, United States drainage, all the world’s volcanoes. On the carpet in the corner of the room, a box sat stuffed with dozens more, from the center of which protruded, almost shyly, a folded map of Guayaquil, Ecuador. His enormous dictionary, open to the letter P, sat on top of a minifridge. Multiple shelves were loaded with books published by former students, above which stood framed photos of McPhee’s wife, Yolanda, and his four daughters.

McPhee sat down at his computer and clicked around. Green text appeared on a black screen. That was all: green text. No icons, rulers, or scrollbars.

McPhee began to type in command lines.

x coded.*

dir coded.*

x coded-10.tff

x coded-16.tff

Up came portions of his book “The Founding Fish.” He typed in further commands, and hunks of green text went blinking around: a complete inventory of his published articles; his 1990 book, “Looking for a Ship.”

I felt as if I were in a computer museum, watching the curator take his favorite oddity for a spin. McPhee has never used a traditional word processor in his life. He is one of the world’s few remaining users of a program called Kedit, which he writes about, at great length, in “Draft No. 4.” Kedit was created in the 1980s and then tailored, by a friendly Princeton programmer, to fit McPhee’s elaborate writing process.

The process is hellacious. McPhee gathers every single scrap of reporting on a given project — every interview, description, stray thought and research tidbit — and types all of it into his computer. He studies that data and comes up with organizing categories: themes, set pieces, characters and so on. Each category is assigned a code. To find the structure of a piece, McPhee makes an index card for each of his codes, sets them on a large table and arranges and rearranges the cards until the sequence seems right. Then he works back through his mass of assembled data, labeling each piece with the relevant code. On the computer, a program called “Structur” arranges these scraps into organized batches, and McPhee then works sequentially, batch by batch, converting all of it into prose. (In the old days, McPhee would manually type out his notes, photocopy them, cut up everything with scissors, and sort it all into coded envelopes. His first computer, he says, was “a five-thousand-dollar pair of scissors.”)

Every writer does some version of this: gathering, assessing, sorting, writing. But McPhee takes it to an almost-superhuman extreme. “If this sounds mechanical,” McPhee writes of his method, “its effect was absolutely the reverse. If the contents of the seventh folder were before me, the contents of twenty-nine other folders were out of sight. Every organizational aspect was behind me. The procedure eliminated nearly all distraction and concentrated just the material I had to deal with in a given day or week. It painted me into a corner, yes, but in doing so it freed me to write.”"



"McPhee’s great theme has always been conservation, in the widest possible sense of the word: the endless tension between presence and absence, staying and leaving, existence … [more]
johmcphee  writing  howwewrite  structure  2017  conservation  princeton  place  humility  process  kedit  organization  belonging  local  gaps  shyness  celebration  nature  geology  time  editing  outlining  naturalhistory  history  maps  mapping  writingprocess  focus  attention  awareness  legacy 
october 2017 by robertogreco
California – Silica Magazine
"1.
When I moved here I started living in geological time — at first because I was afraid of earthquakes and later when I realized that the landscape, with all its component parts, is situated on a continuum, visible to the eye, and perhaps connected at the ends.

[animated GIF]

2.
You will recognize this as magical thinking. It is magical to bear witness to natural processes and their artifacts.

[static GIF]

3.
I look at California, with its evident seismic qualities, natural monuments, and life on land, air, and sea, no longer fearful of what we can’t control but what we can. How do you determine your sense of place without looking around?

[animated GIF]"

[See also: https://www.geologicaltime.net/
http://newhive.com/elisabeth/collection/aspects
http://www.papermag.com/artist-diary-elisabeth-nicula-1936476814.html
https://www.electricobjects.com/collections/179/aspects-of-geological-time-by-elisabeth-nicula
https://elisabethnicula.com/ ]
california  geology  earthquakes  landscape  place  senseofplace  2017  nature  naturalihistory  time  elisabethnicula 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Stand At The Edge Of Geologic Time
"Transport yourself to Rocky Mountain National Park, with all its sights and sounds, in this immersive geology lesson."

"SELECT YOUR EXPERIENCE
Use headphones for immersive binaural audio

Listen to Oregon State University professor Eric Kirby describe the geologic history of Rocky Mountain National Park in this guided experience.

VR MODE: To view the virtual reality version of this story, visit this page on your phone using a Google Cardboard viewer."
geology  vr  binaural  video  erickirby  rockymountainnationalpark  2016  classideas  virtualreality  binauralrecording 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Generation Anthropocene: How humans have altered the planet for ever | Books | The Guardian
"We are living in the Anthropocene age, in which human influence on the planet is so profound – and terrifying – it will leave its legacy for millennia. Politicians and scientists have had their say, but how are writers and artists responding to this crisis?"



"Warren’s exhibit makes Bateley’s crackly recording available, and her accompanying text unfolds the complexities of its sonic strata. It is, as Warren puts it, “a soundtrack of the sacred voices of extinct birds echoing in that of a dead man echoing out of a machine echoing through the world today”. The intellectual elegance of her work – and its exemplary quality as an Anthropocene-aware artefact – lies in its subtle tracing of the technological and imperial histories involved in a single extinction event and its residue."



"Perhaps the greatest challenge posed to our imagination by the Anthropocene is its inhuman organisation as an event. If the Anthropocene can be said to “take place”, it does so across huge scales of space and vast spans of time, from nanometers to planets, and from picoseconds to aeons. It involves millions of different teleconnected agents, from methane molecules to rare earth metals to magnetic fields to smartphones to mosquitoes. Its energies are interactive, its properties emergent and its structures withdrawn.

In 2010 Timothy Morton adopted the term hyperobject to denote some of the characteristic entities of the Anthropocene. Hyperobjects are “so massively distributed in time, space and dimensionality” that they defy our perception, let alone our comprehension. Among the examples Morton gives of hyperobjects are climate change, mass species extinction and radioactive plutonium. “In one sense [hyperobjects] are abstractions,” he notes, “in another they are ferociously, catastrophically real.”

Creative non-fiction, and especially reportage, has adapted most quickly to this “distributed” aspect of the Anthropocene. Episodic in assembly and dispersed in geography, some outstanding recent non-fiction has proved able to map intricate patterns of environmental cause and effect, and in this way draw hyperobjects into at least partial visibility. Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2014) and her Field Notes from a Catastrophe (2006) are landmarks here, as is Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate (2014). In 2015 Gaia Vince published Adventures in the Anthropocene, perhaps the best book so far to trace the epoch’s impacts on the world’s poor, and the slow violence that climate change metes out to them.

Last year also saw the publication of The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, by the American anthropologist Anna Tsing. Tsing takes as her subject one of the “strangest commodity chains of our times”: that of the matsutake, supposedly the most valuable fungus in the world, which grows best in “human-disturbed forests”. Written in what she calls “a riot of short chapters, like the flushes of mushrooms that come up after rain”, Tsing’s book describes a contemporary “nature” that is hybrid and multiply interbound. Her ecosystems stretch from wood-wide webs of mycelia, through earthworms and pine roots, to logging trucks and hedge funds – as well as down into the flora of our own multispecies guts. Tsing’s account of nature thus overcomes what Jacques Rancière has called the “partition of the sensible”, by which he means the traditional division of matter into “life” and “not-life”. Like Skelton in his recent Beyond the Fell Wall (2015), and the poet Sean Borodale, Tsing is interested in a vibrant materialism that acknowledges the agency of stones, ores and atmospheres, as well as humans and other organisms.

Tsing is also concerned with the possibility of what she calls “collaborative survival” in the Anthropocene-to-come. As Evans Calder Williams notes, the Anthropocene imagination “crawls with narratives of survival”, in which varying conditions of resource scarcity exist, and varying kinds of salvage are practised. Our contemporary appetite for environmental breakdown is colossal, tending to grotesque: from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) – now almost an Anthropocene ur-text – through films such as The Survivalist and the Mad Max franchise, to The Walking Dead and the Fallout video game series.

The worst of this collapse culture is artistically crude and politically crass. The best is vigilant and provocative: Simon Ings’ Wolves (2014), for instance, James Bradley’s strange and gripping Clade (2015), or Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake (2014), a post-apocalyptic novel set in the “blaec”, “brok” landscape of 11th-century England, that warns us not to defer our present crisis. I think also of Clare Vaye Watkins’s glittering Gold Fame Citrus (2015), which occurs in a drought-scorched American southwest and includes a field-guide to the neo-fauna of this dunescape: the “ouroboros rattlesnake”, the “Mojave ghost crab”.

Such scarcity narratives unsettle what we might call the Holocene delusion on which growth economics is founded: of the Earth as an infinite body of matter, there for the incredible ultra-machine of capitalism to process, exploit and discard without heed of limit. Meanwhile, however, speculative novelists – Andy Weir in The Martian, Kim Stanley Robinson in Red Mars – foresee how we will overcome terrestrial shortages by turning to asteroid mining or the terra-forming of Mars. To misquote Fredric Jameson, it is easier to imagine the extraction of off-planet resources than it is to imagine the end of capitalism.

The novel is the cultural form to which the Anthropocene arguably presents most difficulties, and most opportunities. Historically, the novel has been celebrated for its ability to represent human interiority: the skull-to-skull skip of free indirect style, or the vivid flow of stream-of-consciousness. But what use are such skills when addressing the enormity of this new epoch? Any Anthropocene-aware novel finds itself haunted by impersonal structures, and intimidated by the limits of individual agency. China Miéville’s 2011 short story “Covehithe” cleverly probes and parodies these anxieties. In a near-future Suffolk, animate oil rigs haul themselves out of the sea, before drilling down into the coastal strata to lay dozens of rig eggs. These techno-zombies prove impervious to military interventions: at last, all that humans can do is become spectators, snapping photos of the rigs and watching live feeds from remote cameras as they give birth – an Anthropocene Springwatch.

Most memorable to me is Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 novel, Annihilation. It describes an expedition into an apparently poisoned region known as Area X, in which relic human structures have been not just reclaimed but wilfully redesigned by a mutated nature. A specialist team is sent to survey the zone. They discover archive caches and topographically anomalous buildings including a “Tower” that descends into the earth rather than jutting from it. The Tower’s steps are covered in golden slime, and on its walls crawls a “rich greenlike moss” that inscribes letters and words on the masonry – before entering and authoring the bodies of the explorers themselves. It gradually becomes apparent that Area X, in all its weird wildness, is actively transforming the members of the expedition who have been sent to subdue it with science. As such, VanderMeer’s novel brilliantly reverses the hubris of the Anthropocene: instead of us leaving the world post-natural, it suggests, the world will leave us post-human.



As the idea of the Anthropocene has surged in power, so its critics have grown in number and strength. Cultural and literary studies currently abound with Anthropocene titles: most from the left, and often bitingly critical of their subject. The last 12 months have seen the publication of Jedediah Purdy’s After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene, McKenzie Wark’s provocative Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene and the environmental historian Jason W Moore’s important Capitalism in the Web of Life. Last July the “revolutionary arts and letters quarterly” Salvage launched with an issue that included Daniel Hartley’s essay “Against the Anthropocene” and Miéville, superbly, on despair and environmental justice in the new epoch.

Across these texts and others, three main objections recur: that the idea of the Anthropocene is arrogant, universalist and capitalist-technocratic. Arrogant, because the designation of the Anthropocene – the “New Age of Humans” – is our crowning act of self-mythologisation (we are the super-species, we the Prometheans, we have ended nature), and as such only embeds the narcissist delusions that have produced the current crisis.

Universalist, because the Anthropocene assumes a generalised anthropos, whereby all humans are equally implicated and all equally affected. As Purdy, Miéville and Moore point out, “we” are not all in the Anthropocene together – the poor and the dispossessed are far more in it than others. “Wealthy countries,” writes Purdy, “create a global landscape of inequality in which the wealthy find their advantages multiplied … In this neoliberal Anthropocene, free contract within a global market launders inequality through voluntariness.”

And capitalist-technocratic, because the dominant narrative of the Anthropocene has technology as its driver: recent Earth history reduced to a succession of inventions (fire, the combustion engine, the synthesis of plastic, nuclear weaponry). The monolithic concept bulk of this scientific Anthropocene can crush the subtleties out of both past and future, disregarding the roles of ideology, empire and political economy. Such a technocratic narrative will also tend to encourage technocratic solutions: geoengineering as a quick-fix for climate … [more]
environment  geology  literature  anthropocene  speculativefiction  fiction  novels  juliannelutzwarren  extinction  2016  robertmacfarlane  posthumanism  capitalism  economics  systems  systemthinking  technology  sustainability  technocracy  capitalocene  deforestation  chinamiéville  jedediahpurdy  mckenziewark  jasonmoore  danielhartley  jeffcandermeer  tomothymorton  hyperobjects  naomiklein  elizabethkolbert  gaiavince  annatsing  seanborodale  richardskelton  autumnrichardson  rorygibb  memory  holocene  earth  salvation  philiplarkin  plastic  plasticene  stratigraphy  eugenestoemer  paulcrutzen  history  apex-guilt  shadowtime  stieg  raymondwilliams  fredricjameson  glennalbrecht  johnclare  solastalgia  inequality  annalowenhaupttsing  jedediahbritton-purdy 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Cultural Landscape Photography - Marion Belanger
"Marion Belanger is interested in the concepts of persistence and change, and in the way that boundaries demarcate difference, particularly in regards to the land. She has been the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a John Anson Kittredge Award, an American Scandinavian Fellowship, Connecticut Commission on the Arts Fellowships, and has been an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony, at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, at the Virginia Center for the Arts and at Everglades National Park. The artist earned a MFA from the Yale University School of Art where she was the recipient of both the John Ferguson Weir Award and the Schickle-Collingwood Prize, and a BFA from the College of Art & Design at Alfred University. Her photographs are included in many permanent collections including the Library of Congress, the Corcoran Museum of Art, the Yale University of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the International Center of Photography. She was the 2007 Photographer Laureate of Tampa, FL. Her book of photographs Everglades: Outside and Within, with an essay by Susan Orlean, was released by the Center for American Places at Columbia College and the University of Georgia Press in 2009. Her current work investigates the shifting edges of the North American Continental Plate in Iceland and California. She resides in Guilford, Connecticut."



"RIVER 2013-2014

The headwaters of the Naugatuck River originate in Northwest Connecticut, where the east and west branches converge to form the main river stem. For 39 miles the river flows south where it reaches a confluence with the larger Housatonic River in Derby. Having grown up in Naugatuck, I know this river well, and I remember when it was one of the most polluted rivers in the county. The Naugatuck's pristine natural state will never be known, but in recent years vitality has reasserted itself amidst the relics of its past degradation."



"RIFT 2006-2009

Rift/Fault documents the shifting edges of the North American Plate: the eastern boundary in Iceland, along the North Atlantic Rift, where it meets the Eurasian Plate and the San Andreas Fault in California, along the Pacific Plate. In Iceland the land along the Rift is unstable and raw, as the two tectonic plate edges are pulling apart. My images portray pipes that carry steam for geothermal electricity, hot pools, volcanic remnants, homes along the Ridge, and the raw, empty landscape."



"FAULT 2008-2012

Rift/Fault documents the shifting edges of the North American Plate: the eastern boundary in Iceland, along the North Atlantic Rift, where it meets the Eurasian Plate and the San Andreas Fault in California, along the Pacific Plate. In California, the Pacific plate is sliding north relative to the North American plate, which means that eventually, in many millions of years, Los Angeles will be where San Francisco is now. While this transformative plate boundary is characterized by earthquake activity, it lacks the spectacular drama of a divergent boundary such as what is found in Iceland. The landscape is often mundane, striking in its ordinariness. The monotone housing developments built on top of the fault seem to deny the existence of the unstable earth below the surface. The ordered built environment ignores the actuality of the land, a dangerous disconnect."



"REAL ESTATE 2006-

In Real Estate, I investigate the in-between status of uninhabited interiors. Many of the spaces reveal hints that reference past occupancy and use. A podium sits empty in an abandoned courtroom; walls display empty hardware on which artwork had once hung; an examination curtain hangs in an abandoned hospital. Newer construction, defined by blank walls, suggest narratives as yet undefined. The pictures portray the inevitable transformations that define cultural spaces. They picture impermanence."



"REGENCY COVE 2006-2007

Regency Cove is sited on a strip filled with gas stations, chain stores and traffic. There are few remnants of the wildness that once defined this land and despite being within the city limits of Tampa, there is virtually no visible urban integrity. Yet once inside the security gate of Regency Cove, the ceaseless flow of traffic gives way to a quietness that belies the banality outside. This is waterfront property - Old Tampa Bay, invisible from the road, defines the inside boundary. In many ways the current economic difficulties have protected Regency Cove from opportunistic developers and a city eager for tax dollars. For now, the homes sit, as if frozen in decades already past. Commissioned by the City of Tampa."

[via: http://architectureofdoom.tumblr.com/post/138421389108/calamitaa-marion-belanger-rift ]
marionbelanger  art  change  persistence  boundaries  faultlines  nature  geology  geography  us  iceland  california  connecticut  everglades  landscape 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Rings – BLDGBLOG
"In the forests of northern Ontario, a “strange phenomenon” of large natural rings occurs, where thousands of circles, as large as two kilometers in diameter, appear in the remote landscape.

“From the air, these mysterious light-coloured rings of stunted tree growth are clearly visible,” the CBC explained back in 2008, “but on the ground, you could walk right through them without noticing them.”
Since they were discovered on aerial photos about 50 years ago, the rings have baffled biologists, geologists and foresters… Astronomers suggest the rings might be the result of meteor strikes. Prospectors wonder whether the formations signal diamond-bearing kimberlites, a type of igneous rock.

While it’s easy to get carried away with visions of supernatural tree rings growing of their own accord in the boreal forests, this is actually one of the more awesome examples of where the likely scientific explanation is also significantly more interesting than something more explicitly other-worldly.

Indeed, as geochemist Stew Hamilton suggested in 1998, the rings are most likely to be surface features caused by “reduced chimneys,” or “big centres of negative charge that frequently occur over metal deposits,” where a forest ring is simply “a special case of a reduced chimney.”

Reduced chimneys, meanwhile, are “giant electrochemical cells” in the ground that, as seen through the example of forest rings, can affect the way vegetation grows there.

One of many things worth highlighting here is this suggestion that the trees are being influenced from below by ambient electrochemical processes in the soil, set into motion by the region’s deep geology:
Hamilton was testing an analytical technique over a Matheson gold deposit to determine if there was any kind of geochemical surface signal. To his surprise, there were signals coming through 30 to 40 metres of glacial clay.

“We’re thinking there’s no way metals can move through clay 10,000 years after glaciation.”
After ruling out transport by ground water, diffusion and gas, he theorized it had to have been lifted to surface on electrical fields.

He applied the same theory to forest rings and discovered that they were also giant negatively charged cells.

Any source of negative charge will create a forest ring.

In landscape architecture terms, a forest ring—which Hamilton describes [PDF] as “a plant assemblage that is different from the surrounding forest making the features visible from the air”—could be seen as a kind of indirect electrochemical garden taking on a recognizably geometrical form without human intervention.

In effect, their shape is expressed from below. For ambitious future landscape designers, note that this implies a potential use of plantlife as a means for revealing naturally occurring electrical networks in the ground, where soil batteries and other forms of terrestrial electronics could articulate themselves through botanical side-effects.

That is, plant a forest; come back after twenty years; discover vast rings of negative electrochemical charge like smoke rings pushing upward from inside the earth.

Or, of course, you could reverse this: design for future landscape-architectural effects by formatting the deep soil of a given site, thus catalyzing subterranean electrochemical activity that, years if not generations later, would begin to have aesthetic effects.

But it gets weirder: as Hamilton’s fieldwork also revealed, there is a measurable “bulge in the water table that occurs over the entire length of the forest ring with a profound dip on the ring’s outer edge.” For Hamilton, this effect was “beyond science fiction,” he remarked to the trade journal Northern Ontario Business, “it’s unbelievable.”

What this means, he adds, is that “the water is being held up against gravity” by naturally occurring electrical fields.

Subsequent and still-ongoing research by other geologists and geochemists has shown that forest rings are also marked by the elevated presence of methane (which explains the “stunted tree growth”), caused by natural gas leaking up from geological structures beneath the forest.

Hamilton himself wrote, in a short report for the Ontario Geological Survey [PDF], that forest ring formation “may be due to upward methane seepage along geological structures from deeper sources,” and that this “may indicate deeper sources of natural gas in the James Bay Lowlands.”

These forest rings might also be surface indicators of diamond pipes and coal deposits, meaning that, given access to an aerial view, you can “read” the earth’s biosphere as a living tissue of signs or symptoms through which deeper, non-biological phenomena (coal, diamonds, metals) are revealed.

Even better, these electrochemical effects stop on a macro-scale where the subsurface geology changes; as Hamilton points out [PDF], the “eastward disappearance of rings in Quebec occurs at the north-south Haricanna Moraine, which coincides with a sudden drop in the carbonate content of soils.”

If you recall that there were once naturally-occurring nuclear reactors burning away in the rocks below Gabon, then the implication here would be that large-scale geological formations, given the right slurry of carbonates, metals, and clays, can also form naturally-occurring super-batteries during particular phases of their existence.

To put this another way, through an accident of geology, what we refer to as “ground” in northern Ontario could actually be thought of a vast circuitboard of electrochemically active geological deposits, where an ambient negative charge in the soil has given rise to geometric shapes in the forest.

In any case, there is something pretty incredible about the idea that you could be hiking through the forests of northern Ontario without ever knowing you’re surrounded by huge, invisible, negatively charged megastructures exhibiting geometric effects on the plantlife all around you.

Several years ago, I wrote a post about the future of the “sacred grove” for the Canadian Centre for Architecture, based on a paper called “The sacred groves of ancient Greece” by art historian Patrick Bowe. I mention this because it’s interesting to consider the forest rings of northern Ontario in the larger interpretive context of Bowe’s paper, not because there is any historical or empirical connection between the two, of course; but, rather, for the speculative value of questioning whether these types of anomalous forest-effects could, under certain cultural circumstances, carry symbolic weight. If they could, that is, become “sacred groves.”

Indeed, it is quite thrilling and strange to imagine some future cult of electrical activity whose spaces of worship and gathering are remote boreal rings, circular phenomena in the far north where water moves against gravity and chemical reactions crackle outward through the soil, forcing forests to take symmetrical forms only visible from high above."
plants  nature  geoffmanaugh  2016  forests  canada  ontario  forestrings  plantlife  trees  watertable  geology 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Isthmus: On the Panama Canal Expansion
"The shockwave of Panama Canal expansion is reshaping cities throughout the Americas. We need to look through the lens of landscape, not logistics."



"In the United States, many designers and urbanists have lamented the end of the modern age of infrastructure-building. Some call for renewed investment in public works 57 while others advocate for hacks and tactics to fill the perceived void. 58 However, we may soon see a new wave of infrastructural expansion built not by nation-states but by private interests (e.g. the Nicaragua Canal project driven by HKND Group, a Chinese corporation) or city governments (e.g. coastal cities such as Tokyo, Miami, and New York preparing for rising seas). Whoever is orchestrating construction, it’s clear that there is a continuing appetite for large-scale infrastructural works.

While the phenomenon of bigness is a common historical condition in the Americas generally 59 and the Panamanian isthmus specifically, the operative role of logistics distinguishes the current reconfigurations from the preceding five centuries of commerce, excavation, and construction. 60 The neutral language of logistics occludes the true scale of the Panama Canal expansion. Instead of acknowledging earth moved and channels dug, logistics celebrates wait times shortened and profit margins eased. And because it is a positivistic framework, logistics obscures the political and social implications of its behavior. But the canal expansion puts the lie to the claim that logistics is politically neutral. The primary medium of logistics is territory, and territory is land which is politically divided, controlled, and administered. 61

Efficiency is necessarily measured within bounds; redraw the boundaries, either physical or conceptual, and the calculus changes significantly. 62 The excess generated by the Panama Canal expansion and its networked effects challenges the validity of the bounds drawn around infrastructural projects of this scope and scale. Here the bounds are drawn based on the relatively narrow values admitted by logistics. Thus, the sedimentary surplus of excavation is seen as a disposal expense, rather than a potential resource, because the value it could generate would accrue to residents, turtles, and fish, not to the ACP or the global shipping corporations it deals with. The uncertain fate of American port expansions challenges the elevation of efficiency as a primary goal, by demonstrating that it may be impossible to draw boundaries so small that they meaningfully predict the behavior of such large systems in the manner demanded by positivist logistics.

We are not arguing that logistics should or will lose its role in the organization of infrastructure projects that have global effects. (That would be unrealistic, if only because of the intimate intertwinement of logistics and contemporary capitalism. 63) Rather, we argue that landscapes, people, and others affected by these projects would benefit if logistics were augmented with other conceptual tools. At the scale of the Panama Canal expansion, logistics has produced unintended effects that harm local communities and environments. While these are sometimes justified as necessary casualties of economic development, that defense collapses when the presumed economic benefits fail to materialize. The legacy of canal expansion may be a constellation of overbuilt and underutilized infrastructure projects and degraded ecosystems — symbols of unfulfilled political and economic ambitions. If this is common to logistical infrastructures at very large scales, then we should not use logistics as the sole framework for their conceptualization.

We argue that analytic and design frameworks that take landscape as their primary object should be among the tools used to evaluate such infrastructures. We say this precisely because landscape, as a concept, works with a more complete range of values — material (as emphasized in this essay), social, political, ecological, cultural, and aesthetic. 64 While logistics elides these dimensions, we have shown that they are present in the expansion project and have been a part of the canal landscape since its inception. 65 As a medium, landscape integrates multiple processes, indicators, and design goals. Landscape has both analytical and experiential dimensions, which makes it ideally suited for synthesizing ideas across science, design, land management, and other practices. 66 While the logistician frames every situation as a technical problem to be solved, the landscape designer sees a cultural project, an opportunity to bring together competing value systems and forms of expertise. Landscape foregrounds the values that are contested in a given project, and it does not assume that economic gain and efficient distribution are the only goals that matter. This is all the more important given that logistics is often speculative; promised economic benefits doesn’t always materialize, even as social and environmental effects do.

Here our argument differs from that of other writers in the design disciplines who have engaged logistics and the landscapes that it produces. Charles Waldheim’s and Alan Berger’s “Logistics Landscape” makes a direct connection between the production of physical space through logistics and landscape as a conceptual framework, but the article focuses on articulating logistical landscapes as a manifestation of the current period of urban history and offering a set of logistical landscape typologies. 67 It closes by asserting that landscape architecture could play a role in the design and planning of logistics landscapes, but does not articulate how that role might develop or what inadequacies in a purely logistical approach might need to be ameliorated. Writers such as Clare Lyster and Jesse LeCavalier critically examine and unpack the workings of logistical flow with the intention of drawing methodological lessons that might inspire designers, planners, and other urbanists, but they do not attempt to carve out roles for designers within the territories governed by logistics. 68 All of these researchers share a common interest in explaining why other disciplines, primarily designers, should be interested in how logistics operates.

We have taken a different approach, describing gaps in the operations of logistics in order to convey the urgency of approaching large-scale infrastructural projects with landscape tools, methods, and frameworks. The discipline of landscape architecture, which we as authors call our own and which Waldheim and Berger assert the value of, possesses some of these characteristics, but it is not alone. Landscape ecology, geography, soil science, environmental studies, the nascent spatial humanities, and spatial planning are all examples of disciplines that take landscape as their medium. 69 Working with colleagues from these disciplines, designers who learn to grapple with logistical bigness might discover new formats for public works, approaches which neither retreat to the tactical nor valorize a bygone era, but instead produce augmented speculative frameworks, novel spatial practices, and material responses fit to contemporary conditions."
shipping  panamá  panamacanal  ports  2015  anthropocene  architecture  geology  cities  us  americas  northamerica  southamerica  panamax  logistics  landscape  losangeles  oakland  seattle  infrastructure  bigness  scale  briandavis  robholmes  brettmilligan 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Watch: Satellite time lapse reveals humanity's global footprint - Vox
"[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNQ9z_Eb-Jc ]

In the 1970s, some forward-thinking NASA scientists put an Earth-observing satellite into orbit. At an altitude of 570 miles, it photographed the entire planet every 18 days, circling Earth 14 times a day and sending the data back to ground stations.

Forty years later, this satellite and its successors have created the longest continuous record of our planet's surface. By stringing the images together, NASA and the US Geological Survey have shown how rapidly and how profoundly humans are changing the face of Earth.

[gif]

In this time lapse showing the massive growth of Las Vegas, vegetation appears red because the images were partially gathered through infrared sensors. Golf courses and lawns jump out, foretelling the city's water scarcity problems. Off of Lake Mead an artificial lake appears in the 1990s, and developments form alongside it. This is Lake Las Vegas, where Celine Dion lives.

Check out the video above to see what 40 years of satellite imagery reveal about humanity's global footprint.

Read more: 15 before-and-after images that show how we're transforming the planet"
satelliteimagery  via:vruba  anthropocene  nasa  geology  geography  2015  energy  defoestation  envionment  earth  urbansprawl  wateruse  aralsea  lasvegas  brazil  brasil  climatechange  wyoming 
may 2015 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: It Came From Below
"In a short book called Making Time: Essays on the Nature of Los Angeles, writer William L. Fox explores the remnant gas leaks and oil seeps of the city. At times, it reads as if he is describing the backdrop of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Such is the strange and permanent apocalypse of 21st-century L.A.

Fox writes, for example, that “a methane vent opened up in the middle of Fairfax Street” back in 1985, and that it “burned uncontrollably for days before it could be put out.” At night, it was a world lit by flames. Astonishingly, he adds, in 1962 “a Hawthorne woman had a fire under her house—a house with no basement. She located the source of the problem when she went outside and touched a match to a crack in the sidewalk: A flame ran down to it.”

This city where sidewalks burn and sewers fill with oily ooze is a city built here almost specifically for that very reason; Los Angeles, in many ways, is a settlement founded on petroleum byproducts, and the oil industry for which the city was once known never actually left. It just got better at hiding itself.

It is already well known that there are oilrigs disguised in plain sight all over the city. The odd-looking tower behind Beverly Hills High School, for example, is actually a camouflaged oilrig; an active oil field runs beneath the classrooms and athletic fields. Even stranger, the enormous synagogue at Pico and Doheny is not a synagogue at all, but a movable drilling tower designed to look like a house of worship, as if bizarre ceremonies for conjuring a literal black mass out of the bowels of the Earth take place here, hidden from view. If you zoom in on Google Maps, you can just make out the jumbles of industrial machinery tucked away inside.

However, amidst all of this still-functional oil infrastructure, there are ruins: abandoned wells, capped drill sites, and derelict pumping stations that have effectively been erased from public awareness. These, too, play a role in the city’s subterranean fires and its poisonous breakouts of black ooze. "



"It is worth considering, then, next time you step over a patch of tar on the sidewalk, that the black gloom still bubbling up into people’s yards and basements, still re-asphalting empty gravel parking lots, is actually an encounter with something undeniably old and elementally powerful.

In this sense, Los Angeles is more than just a city; it is a kind of interface between a petrochemical lifestyle of cars and freeways and the dark force that literally fuels it, a subterranean presence that predates us all by millions of years and that continues to wander freely beneath L.A.’s tangled streets and buildings."
losangeles  nature  oil  geography  geology  2015  geoffmanaugh  bldgblog  centerforlanduseinterpretation  clui  petroleum  williamfox 
march 2015 by robertogreco
K. Verlag | Press / Books / . 2 Land & Animal & Nonanimal
" … is an ensemble which contends that the meaning of the Anthropocene is less a geological re-formation than it is trans-formation of both land and animal; once exposed to some of the parameters defining this transition, the reader-as-exhibition-viewer may begin to discern erratic rhythms generated by the creatures of nonconformity that inhabit, with their violence, struggles, and love the vast, machinic reality called Earth.

Land & Animal & Nonanimal turns the attention from the built space of cultural repositories to the postnatural landscapes of planet Earth. In his interview about urban soils of the Anthropocene, landscape architect Seth Denizen considers a history of land use practices that is also reflected in artist Robert Zhao Renhui’s photographs of Singapore as a scenario of continuous development. Inspired by a recent visit to the environment of Wendover in the Utah desert, Richard Pell and Lauren Allen of Pittsburgh’s Center for PostNatural History make a case for a postnatural imprint upon the geologic aspects inherent in the concept of the Anthropocene. By encountering "the last snail," environmental historian and philosopher Thom van Dooren considers the meaning of hope and care in the context of species extinction. And while curator Natasha Ginwala’s paginated series with contributions by Bianca Baldi, Arvo Leo, Axel Staschnoy, and Karthik Pandian & Andros Zins-Browne turns to cosmological and ancestral human-animal scenarios, sound artist and researcher Mitchell Akiyama explores philosophies of consciousness against the background of the phonogram in nineteenth-century simian research.

.

Co-edited by Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin

Design by Katharina Tauer

Paperback, thread-bound, 160 pages

13 color + 39 black/white images

ISBN 978-0-9939074-1-8 15.99 €

Co-published by K. Verlag and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin

Made possible by the Schering Stiftung

Order the book via info@k-verlag.com

+ + 6 for 4: The intercalations box set subscription offer! + +

.

Published in January 2015"
anthropocene  books  toread  animals  multispecies  transformation  land  landscape  earth  postnaturalhistory  postnatural  sethdenizen  robertzhaorenhui  richardpell  laurenallen  thomvandooren  natashaginwala  biancabaldi  arvoleo  axelstaschnov  karthikpandian  androszins-browne  mitchellakiyama  consciousness  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  geology  centerforpostnaturalhistory  nonconformity  kverlag  katharinatauer  anna-sophiespringer  etienneturpin  posthumanism 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Sjón & Hari Kunzru — Work in Progress — Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/72354976 ]
[Björk introduction: http://www.fsgworkinprogress.com/2013/08/bjork-introduces-sjon/
more: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/05/16/sjon-bjork-and-the-furry-trout/ ]

"Sjón: It writes me. I’m better sticking to being visual when I write. No, but for me, to go in that direction, I actually do think most literature is visual arts."



"Sjón: I think we were typical second-wave punks. I mean, obviously, the generation that started the punk movement in England, the first punk bands—The Clash and The Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks and all these bands—these were all kids that were quite a bit older than we were. They were born around 1953, ’55, so they were all about the anger, and they were all about … I think Johnny Rotten said it came from the liver.

We came to it as teenagers, and it’s interesting that while you can clearly see similarities between punk and Dada, this absolute nihilism, and you can say that the punks were actually fulfilling one of Tristan Tzara’s battle cries where he said, “Musicians, break your instruments on the stage.”

Just as Surrealism followed Dada, something happened when you had seen all this raw anger leading to nothing but raw anger, maybe good old Surrealism became the good and right remedy to all that anger. Like Björk said, it really felt like it fit together, and we were really looking for the revolutionary, the rebellious aspect of Surrealism.

Hari: The idea that it’s sort of dreaming and an escape from reality can be rebellious and revolutionary?

Sjón: As a good Surrealist would say, an escape into reality through dreaming. Ah!

Hari: I was thinking about Jonas Palmason in From the Mouth of the Whale. He goes to Copenhagen, and it’s this huge city filled with more things and people than he’s ever seen before. He imagines that he’s in an ancient version of the city, and I was trying to square that kind of dreaming with this revolutionary dreaming. Are they the same thing? Are they different things? Is the visionary Sjón also an escapist dreamer?

Sjón: One of the first things I learned from Surrealism is that it’s not fantasy, that Surrealism makes a very clear distinction between fantasy and the marvelous. You’re always looking for the marvelous in reality, and that’s where poetry happens. It happens when you hit upon these incredible moments in your reality. In Reykjavik, we had a city of rather small size to go walking around, but this idea of walking around, getting into the spirit, surreal spirit, and awaiting the poetic to manifest in a marvelous way in your reality—that’s very much what I’m looking for."



"Sjón: No. [Pause.] I’m really interested in how people become obsessed with ideas and how they become obsessed with certain cosmologies, and how the obsessed mind starts finding proofs of its truths. How it looks for the manifestation of these truths all around it in reality. This happens all the time—that things start to manifest if you’ve got them on your brain. They start manifesting all around you.

Hari: That’s there in all your fiction, this sense that a certain kind of attention is repaid by this. You start seeing the visionary aspect of the world.

Hari: You’re fond of mythic explanations for things that maybe other people wouldn’t use that for. I saw an interview where you started riffing on the idea that maybe 9-11 was something to do with the power of the great god Pan.

Sjón: I am actually absolutely sure that the great god Pan slipped through some sort of a gateway into our world, on that day.

We’ve been living in panic ever since. Actually, when we were in Athens for Björk’s performance of our song at the Olympics in 2004, I had direct experience of one of the gods there: One day, I was in a group that went down to the peninsula south of Athens, and there is a great Poseidon temple sitting there on a rock. As we came closer to the temple, we saw better and better what a sad state it was in. Obviously, this used to be the place of great sacrifices, 500 bulls sacrificed and burned in one day and all that, and the crowds coming to bow in front of the image of Poseidon.

I thought as we got closer, “Oh, look at you, great Poseidon. Look at the sad state you’re in.” This is how the Icelandic poet’s mind works. That’s how we think when we’re traveling.

We came to the temple and started walking around and looking at these sad ruins, but then I walked to the edge of the cliff. Who was there, who hadn’t moved and left his temple, but Poseidon? The whole ocean stretched out from the cliffs. Poseidon was still there, even though man had stopped sacrificing to Poseidon, Poseidon was still there. Then, Poseidon, of course, feeling a little bit annoyed that people were forgetting him, he moved just a little finger, his little finger a tiny bit, and we had the tsunami in Indonesia.

The myths are really about man confronting the fact that nature is always bigger and stronger.

Hari: It seems that in Iceland, there’s this particular kind of negotiation with nature that has to go on, because it’s a very unstable place, geologically if in no other way. I always think of the island of Surtsey coming out of the sea in the 1960s, and suddenly, you’ve got a new southernmost tip of Iceland that’s been generated by an undersea volcano. Is this sense that things are capable of shifting and that even the ground under your feet could potentially change, do you think this has any link to Iceland’s notorious belief in hidden folk and that sense that the landscape is actually populated with forces that are beyond our immediate understanding?

Sjón: Yes, I think we experience nature as a living thing, and a part of it is to go to the extremes of actually believing that nature has a character, or if not character, that it can manifest itself in different forms. We have folk stories about the hidden people, Huldufólk, who live in rocks and fields and cliffs, and they look exactly like us except they’ve only got one nostril. Apart from having only one nostril, they always lead a much richer and better life than those of us who have to survive above ground. They’re having musical parties all the time. They dress in silk, and whenever an Icelander gives a person from that nation a helping hand, he is rewarded with a cloth of silver or a goblet of gold. We know that the earth is rich, and we know that it’s more powerful than here, so I think when you live in a place that is obviously alive, you tend to populate it with different creatures.

For example, Katla, is this great volcano that possibly will explode fairly soon, and Katla is a woman’s name. It’s the name of a giantess. It’s more than likely that it will wipe out all the habitat that is sitting there on the beach. Man’s existence is—

Hari: Precarious."



"Sjón: I’m interested in the language of faith, and I’m interested in the literature of faith. In Iceland, like in so many Lutheran countries, the translation of the New Testament into the local language was a big moment. The church defined charity and love and all these terms.

I’ve always been interested in religious texts, not only because of the language but because I see religions as cosmologies, and I’m interested in cosmologies, and I’m interested in obsessed people and where to look for obsessed people. The best place is in religion. I think I’ve really taken advantage of the language of religion just in the same way that I’ve taken advantage of the language of myths and the world of myths.

For me, these are all attempts at explaining the same thing, which is to try to answer the question, “Is it possible that in the beginning there was nothing, and now we’re here sitting on these two nice chairs here in this Scandinavia House?”

We know that our cosmology will become obsolete, and it’s really amazing that the biggest given fact of our time is that cosmology, which is the hard science, is so unstable. I love it.

Hari: You take a real aesthetic pleasure in cosmologies, don’t you? What’s the joy of a big system, a big complicated system with lots of moving, whizzing, parts?

Sjón: My joy is the joy of the Trickster. It’s the joy of Loki. It’s the joy of the Coyote, because I know it’s an unstable system, and it will be overthrown, no matter how majestic it is. With the right little tricks, you will have an apocalypse. You will have the twilight of the gods. The gods will fight the last battle, and there will be a new world that rises up from it, and the Trickster can start thinking of new dirty tricks to topple that system."



"Audience Question: You were talking about how you enjoy cosmology and I wondered how you reconcile that with science and with your own art.

Sjón: Well of course it’s the scientists who are destroying each others’ cosmologies all the time. It’s very interesting that most people today live with a cosmology that absolutely ignores the theory of relativity, for example. Most people live as if the theory of relativity never happened because nobody understands it really.

It’s amazing how unaffected we are by these wonderful amazing things. We just continue. That’s one of the ways of overturning cosmologies: just keep brushing your teeth no matter how they say the universe was made."
sjón  iceland  harikunzru  2013  interviews  literature  poetry  davidbowie  surrealism  writing  escapism  punk  reality  björk  fantasy  fiction  nature  myth  mythology  trickster  greekmyths  obsessions  ideas  cosmologies  perspective  science  learning  unlearning  relearning  collaboration  translation  howwewrite  language  icelandic  loki  faith  belief  anthropology  hunting  geology  animals  folklore  folktales  precarity  life  living  myths 
december 2014 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Procedural Forestry
"We looked at procedural Brutalism the other week—and, deep in the BLDGBLOG archives, we explored the moors of a procedurally generated British countryside—so why not procedural forestry?

Designer Florian Veltman tweeted two screen grabs the other week, along with the quick comment that he was "working on a procedural forest." The first image, which you can see in his tweet, is just a path or small clearing—almost a holloway—cutting forward through a forest of algorithmic leaves and branches.

But it's the picturesque errorscape seen in the opening image of this post, and in Veltman's second tweet, that really caught my eye. Captioned by Veltman as a "procedural forest gone wrong... or right?," it resembles a kind of upended tectonic plate overgrown with vegetation, pierced by the alien presence of a miscalculated substrate erupting from below.

Procedural forestry, procedural geology, procedural oceanography—the very idea of a procedural natural history is just incredible. Unstoppable worlds endlessly flowering from roots of code. Imagine landscape information modeling becoming weirdly sentient, self-generating, and aesthetically sublime, laced with errors, topographies gone wild—stuttering and mutated—in the infinite seams between digital worlds.

We watch in unearthly awe as coded terrains crack open or glitch apart just enough to reveal their mathematical interiors, buried operating systems indistinguishable from nature whirring away within the roots and leaves."
bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  procedural  forestry  geology  oceanography  naturalhistory  code  landscape  topography  math  mathematics  2014 
september 2014 by robertogreco
GB geology with Minecraft | Geology of Britain | British Geological Survey (BGS)
"Inspired by the Ordnance Survey (OS), BGS has reproduced the 2D geology of mainland Great Britain and surrounding islands within the world of Minecraft. This map shows the OS map data on the surface and the rough position of real geology beneath, repeated down to the bedrock.

In reality the geology varies with depth, like cake layers, and BGS is working on representing the arrangement of the rocks and sediments in the form of a 3D geological model. Watch this space!"
minecraft  maps  mapping  geology  ordnancesurvey  greatbritain  uk 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Science Studio
"The Weight of Mountains

Here’s a short film by a children’s book illustrator about “the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed, based upon the work of British geographer L. Dudley Stamp.” It’s eye-meltingly gorgeous and starkly scientific. The tone is meditative and incantatory, turning geological terms into epic poetry. If you’ve ever wanted to read John McPhee’s “Annals of the Former World” but only have 11 minutes, watch this."

[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/87651855

"This is a short film about the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed. It is based upon the work of British geographer L. Dudley Stamp, and was shot in Iceland.

Physical geography and geology is an enormous and fascinating subject, and this film only touches upon the surface of the discipline. For those who wish to further advance their knowledge in this field, additional reading and research is recommended.

The film was created as part of The Weight of Mountains filmmaker residency program. For more information please visit twom.is/

Animation courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio" ]
via:vruba  2014  johnpablus  ldudleystamp  mountains  earth  science  earthscience  landscape  geology  film  scale  height  geography  history  naturalhistory  oceans  atmosphere  platemovement  platetectonics  sun  frost  eathering  wind  weather  erosion  glaciers  ice  rain  water  denudation  nature  gravity  johnmcphee 
august 2014 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach
"Incredibly, a "new type of rock cobbled together from plastic, volcanic rock, beach sand, seashells, and corals has begun forming on the shores of Hawaii," Science reports.

This new rock type, referred to as a "plastiglomerate," requires a significant heat-source in order to form, as plastiglomerates are, in effect, nothing but molten lumps of plastic mixed-in with ambient detritus. Hawaii with its coastal and marine volcanoes, offers a near-perfect formational landscape for this artificially inflected geology to emerge—however, Patricia Corcoran, one of the discoverers of these uncanny rocks, thinks we'll likely find them "on coastlines across the world. Plastiglomerate is likely well distributed, it’s just never been noticed before now, she says."

We've been surrounded by artificial geologies all along.

But is it really geology? Or is it just melted plastic messily assembled with local minerals? Well, it's both, it seems, provided you look at it on different time-scales. After heavier chunks of plastiglomerate form, fusing with "denser materials, like rock and coral," Science writes, "it sinks to the sea floor, and the chances it will become buried and preserved in the geologic record increase." It can even form whole veins streaking through other rock deposits: "When the plastic melts, it cements rock fragments, sand, and shell debris together, or the plastic can flow into larger rocks and fill in cracks and bubbles," we read.

It doesn't seem like much of a stretch to suggest that our landfills are also acting like geologic ovens: baking huge deposits of plastiglomerate into existence, as the deep heat (and occasional fires) found inside landfills catalyzes the formation of this new rock type. Could deep excavations into the landfills of an earlier, pre-recycling era reveal whole boulders of this stuff? Perhaps.

The article goes on to refer to the work of geologist Jan Zalasiewicz, which is exactly where I would have taken this, as well. Zalasiewicz has written in great detail and very convincingly about the future possible fossilization of our industrial artifacts and the artificial materials that make them—including plastic itself, which, he suggests, might very well leave traces similar to those of fossilized leaves and skeletons.

In a great essay I had the pleasure of including in the recent book Landscape Futures, Zalasiewicz writes: "Plastics, which are made of long chains of subunits, might behave like some of the long-chain organic molecules in fossil plant twigs and branches, or the collagen in the fossilized skeletons of some marine invertebrates. These can be wonderfully well preserved, albeit blackened and carbonized as hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen are driven off under the effect of subterranean heat and pressure." Plastiglomerates could thus be seen as something like an intermediary stage in the long-term fossilization of plastic debris, a glimpse of the geology to come.

Ultimately, the idea that the stunning volcanic beaches of Hawaii are, in fact, more like an early version of tomorrow's semi-plastic continents and tropical archipelagoes is both awesome and ironic: that an island chain known for its spectacular natural beauty would actually reveal the deeply artificial future of our planet in the form of these strange, easily missed objects washing around in the sand and coral of a gorgeous beach."
bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  geology  plastics  plastic  2014  janzalasiewicz  hawaii  plastiglomerate 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Volcano Alert: A System to Warn Us About the Next Major Iceland Eruption - Wired Science
"With more than 30 active volcanoes, Iceland is one of the most tectonically active spots on Earth, and each eruption has the potential to send all of Europe into an economic tailspin. (Remember how ­Eyjafjallajökull shut down air traffic over the continent in 2010?) So a coalition of 100 European and US scientists calling itself Future­Volc has been working to get ahead of the problem. With Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, they’ve been covering the country with monitoring devices in an effort to use the data to scout signs of an impending eruption. Here’s a look at the new system."
iceland  volcanoes  warning  safety  geology  2013 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Welcome to National Atlas Streamer!
"Explore America's larger streams as you trace upstream to their source or downstream to where they empty.

Learn more about your stream traces and the places they pass through in brief or detailed reports."
geology  maps  rivers  usgs  mapping  water  streams  watershed 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Making the Geologic Now
"Making the Geologic Now: Responses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life announces shifts in cultural sensibilities and practices. It offers early sightings of an increasingly widespread turn toward the geologic as source of explanation, motivation, and inspiration for creative responses to material conditions of the present moment. In the spirit of a broadside, this edited collection circulates images and short essays from over 40 artists, designers, architects, scholars, and journalists who are extending our active awareness of inhabitation out to the cosmos and down to the Earth’s iron core. Their works are offered as test sites for what might become thinkable and possible if humans were to take up the geologic as our instructive co-designer—as a partner in designing thoughts, things, systems, and experiences. As a reading and viewing event, Making the Geologic Now is designed to move with its audiences while delivering signals from unfolding edges of the "geologic now."

The Website

The Making the Geologic Now website is a creative translation of the book into an interactive website. Readers can update and extend the book by uploading and illustrating their own sightings of "the geologic now." Readers can also join in discussions of articles and images in the book or on the website."
anthropocene  books  geology  elizabethellsworth  jamiekruse  ediacarian  anthropozoic  material  time  design  art  documentary  ebooks  materiality  friendsofthepleistocene 
april 2013 by robertogreco
About Us | Generation Anthropocene
"History is accelerating. Global population has crossed seven billion, the planet’s temperature continues its abrupt rise, and scientists warn we are in the midst of a new mass extinction.  Transformations this enormous are rare in earth’s 4.6 billion year history and humankind’s planetary impact is geologic in scale. We have caused a new geologic age, and it has a name: The Anthropocene.

In addition to our extensive physical and chemical influences on our planet, the Anthropocene has come to symbolize a cultural shift. The concept has spread from academic circles to popular media and we at Generation Anthropocene want to cast our butterfly net as wide as possible to capture the conversations about this new age.  We seek out cross-generational stories from our changing environmental and cultural landscapes, discussing all things Anthropocene with thought-leaders like geologists and historians, ecologists and philosophers. We’re grappling with our realization that we’re a geologic force and confronting the new reality with investigative storytelling.

We hope you enjoy the podcast and continue the story of our evolving planet with those around you."
anthropocene  podcasts  stanford  generationanthropocene  geology  earth  humans  via:greerjacob 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Puget Sound River History Project
"The Puget Sound River History Project studies the historical landscape of Puget Sound's lowland rivers and estuaries as a dynamically linked geophysical, ecological, and human system. The historical emphasis is on conditions at the time of earliest Euro-American settlement in the mid-19th century, but also includes the landscape's post-glacial, Holocene (10,000 yrs BP) evolution and the last century and a half of change. We undertake interdisciplinary research that integrates archival investigations, field studies, and the tools of geographic information systems and remote sensing. We also apply the results to, and make data available for, regional problems of resource management, restoration and planning."
earthscience  quaternary  holocene  geology  geography  landscape  water  cascadia  pugetsound  washingtonstate  history  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Patricio Guzmán’s ‘Nostalgia for the Light’ to Open - NYTimes.com
"What finally enabled Mr. Guzmán to make “Nostalgia for the Light,” which opens on Friday at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village, was his realization that the subjects he wanted to address did have a point in common: the preservation of memory. The women who comb the desert looking for the remains of loved ones who disappeared under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet share that trait with the archaeologists and geologists who work in the shadow of the astronomical observatories that dot the Atacama, drawn by its clear skies.

Remembrance has, of course, also been the main theme of Mr. Guzmán’s own body of work, which has been primarily political. But his best-known film, the three-part, four-and-a-half-hour “Battle of Chile,” has come to be regarded as something more than just the record of a particular historical moment."
light  nostalgiaforthelight  history  remembrance  salvadorallende  chile  archaeology  geology  pinochet  patricioguzmán  astronomy  memory  documentary  film  2011  atacama  nostalgiadelaluz  time  present  past  future  coup  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
geologic time viewer
"The Geologic Time Viewer is an interactive graphic design. It offers a contemporary interpretation of the Geological Society of America's 1989 Geologic Time Scale.

Unlike the official Geologic Time Scale—our Viewer does not end with the present as culmination. Instead, we locate the present as the middle of geologic time. Neither beginning nor end, the present is where geologic and human forces are in the midst of unfolding and enfolding. The right represents time past, the left, how geologic time has been enculturated by human design in the present.

Through a window cut in the middle of a geologic time scale, users view their surroundings as the present geologic era--a qualitatively new era called the Anthropocene. Unlike all geologic strata that came before, the Anthropocene’s strata will include a distinct layer of sediment containing elements unique because of their human design (ie nuclear fallout and plastic)."
geology  visualization  timeline  timelines  smudgestudio  friendsofthepleistocene  anthropocene  geologictimescale  geologictime  interactive  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
A Geologic Evening in the Geologic City « FOP
"The bookmark reframes the NYC MetroCard through its geologic constitution. The MetroCard’s “intelligence” pre-dates the Earth. Tiny iron bars within the card’s magnetic strip are arranged to point up or down, storing transit data (when a card was purchased, how many rides remain etc.). The MetroCard’s iron was born of supernovae, billions of years ago. Ironically, the geologic intelligence of this material, traveling through incomprehensible spans of time  and distance, is what facilitates passage into and throughout New York City’s subways today. Yet, hydrocarbons that have been brewing since periods such as the Devonian and Permian are what fuel the production and compose the substance of the plastic of the card itself.  With each MetroCard swipe, Pre-Earthian iron, transformed primordial life forms that arrive to us as crude oil, and Anthropocene plastic, assemble intimately to become a tool of urban transit."
smudgestudio  geologiccity  nyc  metrocard  fop  friendsofthepleistocene  geology  urban  earth  history  time  perspective  longonow  bighere  materials  brooklyn  bookmarks  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
FOP [Friends of the Pleistocene]
"FOP produces & carries out research & design projects. Our projects respond to conjunctures of landscape & human activity shaped by the geologic epoch of the Pleistocene, & geologic time more generally. Our interactive events & devices (for visualization, interpretation, imaginative & cognitive projections) invite humans to project their imaginations from present land use back into geologic time & forward into speculative geo- & bio-futures. Our mission is to extend humans’ capacities to sense & live in relation to geologic time…

…We study, document, & creatively respond to how the geologic epoch of the Pleistocene continues to shape our daily lives & how humans use geologic-shaped landforms & environments. Our projects include photographic image-sensations; "take away" speculative tools for exploration & cognitive recalibration w/in the geologic timescale; printed works such as posters, newsprints, booklets, field guides, & diary-maps; & informal public education events."
landscape  art  brooklyn  nyc  fop  friendsofthepleistocene  time  geology  earth  humans  human  perspective  science  environment  timescale  geologictimescale  fieldguides  projectideas  glvo  maps  mapping  education  anthropocene  holocene  quaternary  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
Anthropocene: Age of Man - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine
"It’s a new name for a new geologic epoch—one defined by our own massive impact on the planet. That mark will endure in the geologic record long after our cities have crumbled."
anthropocene  humans  sustainability  earth  environment  agriculture  anthropology  geology  2011  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
geologic city – mammoth // building nothing out of something
"The salt travels here via International Salt, the City’s supplier, from the Tarapacá Salt Flats in Chile, vast deposits inside ancient sea beds that now lie in the driest desert in the world (50 times drier than Death Valley). Despite having materialized 8-10 million years ago during the Miocene epoch, the tons of solidified geologic time piled beneath the bridge will dissolve away in a matter of weeks as they are spread atop hundreds of miles of wintry city streets. Before washing away with spring rains, this thin coating of ancient salt will first encrust nearly every exterior surface of the city — roads, sidewalks, bikes, cars, and shoes — with traces of deep time."
chile  time  salt  saltflats  taracapá  geology  miocene  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Coprolite - Wikipedia
"A coprolite is fossilized animal dung. Coprolites are classified as trace fossils as opposed to body fossils, as they give evidence for the animal's behaviour (in this case, diet) rather than morphology. The name is derived from the Greek words κοπρος / kopros meaning 'dung' and λιθος / lithos meaning 'stone'. They were first described by William Buckland in 1829. Prior to this they were known as "fossil fir cones" and "bezoar stones." They serve a valuable purpose in paleontology because they provide direct evidence of the predation and diet of extinct organisms.[1] Coprolites may range in size from a few millimetres to over 60 centimetres."

[Search sparked by this post (with photo): http://plsj.tumblr.com/post/788690733/i-have-a-small-collection-of-coprolites ]
geology  fossils  coprolites  bezoars  dung  paleontology  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Going, Going, Gone § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"Beyond such mundane geopolitical rivalries, the US has a more profound reason to conserve its helium: Every balloon inevitably deflates. Optimistically assuming that demand for the substance continues to grow only a few percent each year, and that the entirety of the globe’s remaining natural gas reserves will be processed for their helium, the NRC report estimates there will only be enough to last another 40 years. It stands to reason that as supplies diminish, helium will be used more efficiently and investments in recycling technologies will grow. But the fact that the Earth’s four-billion year bounty has been so reduced in scarcely a century suggests that helium is sadly not long for this world."
economics  environment  sustainability  helium  scarcity  materials  nature  physics  geology  geography  resources 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Surviving A Tsunami—Lessons from Chile, Hawaii, and Japan
"This report contains true stories that illustrate how to survive-and how not to survive-a tsunami. It is meant for people who live, work, or play along coasts that tsunamis may strike. Such coasts surround most of the Pacific Ocean but also include other areas, such as the shores of the Caribbean, eastern Canada, and the Mediterranean.
tsunamis  visualization  earthquakes  preparedness  geography  safety  weather  disaster  surfing  ocean  geology  travel  pacific  chile  japan  hawaii 
february 2010 by robertogreco
geological training wheels (tecznotes)
"You can see a 50,000 year gap between settlements on either side of the 8 mile wide Strait of Gibraltar. There's no such gap between England and the continent, those places started out settled together, and remained so even after the Holocene split. The now-submerged floor of the North Sea was like a set of prehistoric training wheels, helping to mark the path to Britain as a possibility and encouraging the upkeep of technology to keep it so. The always-divided Strait of Gibraltar did no such thing. Knowing that something is possible makes it seem sane to work to attain it."
michalmigurski  technology  possibility  history  geology  earth  maps  mapping  humans 
august 2009 by robertogreco
The Vigorous North: The Black Belt: How Soil Types Determined the 2008 Election in the Deep South
"Allen Gathman, a biology professor in Missouri, had also seen the pattern and recognized it as a function of land use in the deep South. He posted the electoral map above alongside a map of cotton production in 1860: sure enough, the "blue" counties correlated with cotton production in the slavery era."

[Update: 28 Dec 2012: Something from 2012: http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/events/department-news/1100/how-presidential-elections-are-impacted-by-a-100-million-year-old-coastline/ ]

[New URL for this link: http://www.vigorousnorth.com/2008/11/black-belt-how-soil-types-determined.html ]
2008  elections  voting  us  population  agriculture  geography  cartography  maps  mapping  demographics  geopolitics  society  science  cotton  barackobama  johnmccain  republicans  democrats  politics  geology 
november 2008 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Earth Evolves
"Then, of course, we hit the present day – pictured below. Suddenly this arrangement looks rather impermanent."
geology  science  earth  change  evolution 
march 2008 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Colored Magma
"Unsupervised geological interventions are the future of landscape architecture. What Ted Turner did for film, we will do for geology: the re-colorization of the planet."
bldgblog  design  geography  geology  terraforming  color  chile  landscape  magma  art 
january 2008 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Immanent islandry
"2 Chilean scientists believe world's largest tectonic plate, beneath Pacific Ocean, is "tearing apart," & possibly on verge of cracking in 2..seafloor is unzipping...will future archipelagos bloom there, like rocky fruits of the sea."
geography  geology  chile  platetectonics  pacific  islands 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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