Jacob Emery - “‘Taint of Sordid Industry’ : Extraction and Pastoral”

J. M. W. Turner’s sketches and William Wordsworth’s bucolic poems both represent the Lake District in pencil on paper. Their images and verses represent the landscape from which this artistic medium was extracted: the Lake District was in the early nineteenth century the center of Britain’s graphite industry. However, Wordsworth’s famous lines in the Prelude on learning poetry from the river Derwent’s burblings omit the mine shafts in the river’s banks, whose graphite is in another sense the source of his poetic language; his 1820 apostrophe to the landscape of Cumbria, “remote from every taint / Of sordid industry,” relocates that taint to the paper, where his pencil lines make the product of industrial labor visible as a poetic medium even as they efface that labor from the represented landscape. In this talk, I hope to elucidate this feedback loop of production and representation, in which the pastoral artwork is the legible mark of a subterranean industry, through readings of elegiac landscapes composed in lithic media like graphite and slate. Drawing on a book-length project on how the work of art becomes recognizable within the frame constituted by the other kinds of work, I treat poetic inscriptions and the Romantic cult of the stone ruin in the context of the larger-scale and less immediately legible markings of the earth left by extraction industries.

Tobah Aukland-Peck - “Slag Landscape: Topographies of Waste in Postwar Britain”

Slag heaps are visual residues of coal mining operations, an aboveground symbol of subterranean industry. These piles of waste, which were generated from fossil extraction, could reach over ten stories. They loomed over the industrial landscapes of Britain’s mining areas and their enormous scale and triangular shape made it difficult to distinguish between a slag heap and a natural hill. Indeed, in the work of postwar British artists, including the painter Prunella Clough and the conceptual artist John Latham, the presence of the slag heap was a formal element that challenged the integrity of the natural landscape. Both artists showed subterranean material overtaking the visible terrain. Clough’s images bordered on the abstract, and in paintings such as Slag Landscape (1958) the mined material engulfed the composition. Latham went even further in Derelict Land Art (1976), which documented his attempt to preserve a set of Scottish slag heaps as artistic monuments. His land artwork acclimatized industrial waste as a symbol of the modern landscape. Yet by asserting that these slag heaps were found artworks, Latham suggested that, like nature, the slag heap had an autonomous form independent from human intention. This paper explores the site of the slag heap, a vital meeting point between nature, material, and effluence, as a framework for rethinking the divide between natural landscape and industrial waste. As the British economic crises of the 1970s-80s precipitated the obsolescence of working coal mines, the slippage between representations of these monumental forms and natural landscape features integrated mining infrastructure and its political history as topographical elements.

Bz Zhang – “Crude Representation: Past, Present, and Future Petrochemical Los Angeles”

Design professionals create documents to facilitate transitions between past, present, and future. These drawings, specifications, contracts, and so forth play a dangerously outsize role in historical and legal records, if not in construction. Unequal documentation has contributed not only to white supremacist and settler colonial structures and systems, but their mythologies and erasures. Meanwhile, our experiences of petrochemical empire in urban landscapes, such as in Los Angeles, are wholly embodied—pipelines through ancestral sites, refineries along beaches, pumpjacks on street corners, wells across from bedroom windows, chemicals in lungs. However, the scales, forms, and boundaries of these landscapes are often intentionally obscured and thus difficult to dismantle. This research wonders aloud about representations of violence and the violence of representations by asking questions both using and about architectural tools. In Tovaangar, so-called Los Angeles, the “frontline” is most often clustered in communities of color through white supremacist tactics, and yet oil architectures and landscapes are everywhere. Cardiff Tower, the first “architecturally designed oil derrick,” disguises itself in a historically Orthodox neighborhood south of Beverly Hills with a synagogue façade. El Segundo, a white company town named after the adjacent Chevron refinery, continues to prosper through Chevron’s patronage. Meanwhile, environmental justice coalitions, like STAND-LA, fight to protect people living within feet of oil infrastructure, impacted by toxic fumes and spills. Through documentation and analysis of LA’s petrochemical landscapes, its typologies, and embedded histories, this paper examines past, present, and future crude representations and landscapes that must be seen, understood, and transformed.

Alba Menéndez Pereda - “Performing History: Landscapes as Multisensorial Archives in the Inca Empire”

The history of the Inca Empire (ca. 1440-1532) was written and safeguarded in the landscape of South America. Moving along the spectrum of social memory and cultural memory intended to advance specific agendas, historical narratives about the origins of the Inca and the lives of the imperial rulers were grafted onto the landscape through intentional acts, being associated with natural features considered to be sacred and the construction of monumental sites which functioned as lieux de mémoire. Additionally, these narratives were enacted through bodily practices in the form of singing, recitation, and processions. Adopting a landscape-centered approach, this paper explores the intricate relationship between Inca imperial history, the biographies of Inca rulers, and the natural and built environment upon which this history took place and through which it was remembered. Building upon a series of peripatetic performances which connected the imperial capital with its surroundings as case studies, this paper opens inquiry into the role of landscape as an Inca history-making and history-encountering device by means of its multi-sensorial experience, and the kind of narratives and identities created through these spatial ceremonies. Drawing theoretically and methodologically from archaeology, ethnohistory, history of architecture, landscape studies, and performance studies, this landscape framework challenges dominant narratives within scholarship about what constitutes history, and conceptual dichotomies that draw sharp boundaries between written accounts and visual culture. 

Kapp Singer - “Arboreal Annihilations: Fire, Photography, Telephony, and Timber Capital in the Early U.S. Forest Service”

The telephone and the photograph were two media technologies that proved to be crucial instruments in the U.S. Forest Service’s earliest attempts at extricating fire from the American West. These two mediatizations of the West’s sylvan landscapes allowed the agency to protect trees from the destructive tendencies of fire and efficiently facilitate their transformation into timber capital. This paper considers a pair of photographs taken by the Forest Service circa 1910 which depicts a ranger affixing telephone lines to trees in a burned-out conifer forest. I use this photographic diptych examine the intricate interplays between traditional and environmental forms of media in the rise of American fire management regimes, and I trace these images back to Gifford Pinchot’s earliest experiments in utilitarian forestry. I turn my attention towards the diptych’s caption, which proclaims that the telephone ‘annihilates’ the space of the forest, and use Marx’s notion of capitalist space-annihilation to explain the Forest Service’s use of media technologies as a method for streamlining capital accumulation. Finally, I move to consider today’s megafires as a space-annihilating form of environmental media which has necessarily emerged from earlier forms of media used for fire suppression. I argue that megafires (and their far-reaching plumes of smoke) represent an annihilation of space which resists the rationalization of the forest—the burning of timber capital.

Rhea Maria Dehn Tutosaus - “The Strait of Gibraltar as a Border(land)scape: New Ways of Seeing and Knowing through Contemporary Art”

In her 2019 film, Bab Sebta, Moroccan artist Randa Maroufi examines the daily movements of bodies, crossing back and forth the border of Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Morocco. Maroufi’s fundamental shift in perspective imagines the border from the perspective of the bodies that cross it every day. This lecture seeks to explore how the border(land)scape of the Strait of Gibraltar is (re)defined in and through the artistic practice of Randa Maroufi and her contemporaries. By focusing on the entanglements of artistic methodologies, visuality and knowledge-production, the aim of this lecture is two-fold: Firstly, the artistic methodology will be examined as a collaborative practice in which the ‘border(land) inhabitants’ are acknowledged as essential producers of knowledge for the understanding the border. This leads to the second aim and answers the following question: how does this artistic methodology provide new ways of seeing and knowing the border(land)scape and the bodies of the border(land) inhabitants, rather than from a supposedly objective viewpoint, common to abstract modern/colonial thought (Lugonés 1992)? Hence, in this paper I intend to negotiate the entangled relationship of the borderscape, the bodies, and agencies from an art theoretical perspective. Taking decolonial approaches into account, art becomes not only a site of reflection on coloniality and modernity, but also a producer of border thinking and thus a site of emergence of ‘other’ epistemologies. From an art historical perspective focusing on representations of the Spanish-Moroccan border, a geographical study allows for focus on place itself – its creation, negotiation, habitation, and transformation. 

Joseph Zordan - “On Togetherness: Thomas Cole and Indigenous Re-Readings of Landscape Painting”

How can we find kin in genres meant to alienate us? For most of its life Thomas Cole’s painting The Clove, Catskills (1826), was a landscape like many others. The forest erupts like an ocean on the canvas, rising in hilly swells and cresting in clouds. It is an endless sea of fiery foliage, and it is all there for you, the viewer, and no one else. That is, until a cleaning in 1964, revealed an Indigenous man, previously covered behind the pigment of autumnal leaves and stone. The phantasmic figure with his arm extended, leads our gaze not into the sunlit valley but the opaque forest—a place of disorientation and denial of clear vision. Within recent years much academic discourse has been devoted to demonstrating landscape painting as an imperial tool within 19th century North America—artistic productions of terra nullius built on the negation of Indigenous presence. However, I believe in the latent revelation of The Clove, a space toward an Indigenous re-reading of American landscape painting can be found. Guided by the Anishinaabe worldview I was raised with, this paper will explore alternative readings of landscape painting, not as colonial tools, but as sites of relation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors, as well as human and non-human ones. What are the limits of reading Indigenous presence only through Indigenous human presence? How do landscape paintings change when we assert Indigenous relationality to not only the land, but also the flora as active sentient beings?

Manon Gaudet - “Native Clays and Indigenous Bodies: American Art Pottery, Ethnographic Photography, and White Possession at the turn of the 20th-century”

Within the first three decades of the twentieth-century, both the Rookwood Pottery Company and the Department of the Interior used anthropological photographs of Indigenous peoples to sell land. In the first case, feldspar, kaolin, and silica unearthed from Ohio clay deposits were formed into elegant ceramic bodies painted with the named and unnamed busts of Indigenous men, women, and children who sat for an earlier anthropologist’s camera. Both Indigenous land and bodies were made portable as decoration for the homes of white settlers. In the second case, a 1911 land sale poster made this land—anthropomorphically pictured as De Lancey Gill’s portrait of Yankton Sioux tribe member Padani-Kokipa-Sni—procurable through the 1887 Dawes General Allotment Act. Viewing private property ownership as a viable route for assimilation, the federal government dissolved communal reservations while simultaneously opening up ninety million acres of land for white settlement. This paper considers how both poster and pot reveal a correspondence between the alienability of land as natural resource and the exploitation of the Indigenous subject. It interrogates how centering land over -scape reveals a more expansive set of objects that demonstrate how representation mediates the settler’s relationship to colonized land. Moreover, these case studies demonstrate how artists and consumers reckoned not with an ideology of terra nullis, but with the inalienability of North American land and its Indigenous stewards. These property lots and pots are not just any land transformed into private, domestic possessions. What does it mean that their designers and artists proclaim them to be specifically “Indian” land?

Ivana Dizdar - “Les Zones Terrestres: Picturing Hydroimperialism in French Scenic Wallpaper, ca. 1855”

A North American river flows into the Indian Ocean, disappears beneath the Saharan desert, reemerges as a Swiss waterfall, then flows into an Arctic seascape. This multiregional—indeed phantasmagorical—landscape is the subject of Les Zones Terrestres, a French scenic wallpaper first manufactured by Zuber & Cie in 1855. The wallpaper promised bourgeois consumers a convenient—if vicarious—opportunity to travel all at once to five disparate locations: Canada, Bengal, Algeria, Switzerland, and the Polar North. Crucially, the wallpaper offered its viewers a chance to observe as water circulated through all its forms—from freshwater, oceans, and waterfalls to clouds, glaciers, and ice—across climatic zones. This paper addresses the presence, significance, and implications of water in Les Zones Terrestres, calling attention to what this decorative object shows us—or seeks to omit—about nineteenth-century geopolitics, hydroimperialism, and moments of ecological change. How did representations of water in interior design reflect but also impact French conceptions of their own identity, their colonies, and their changing relationship with the world? Marked by globalization, colonization, and the slave trade, how was water remediated into a motif of comfort, luxury, and desire? Finally, this paper considers what Les Zones Terrestres can tell us about the future of climatic extremes and their intrusion into our most intimate spaces.

Damiano Benvegnù - “The Fascist Forest: Mussolini’s Trees and the Ecological Legacy of Fascism”

Between 1938 and 1939, on the slopes of Mount Giano, just above the town of Antrodoco in central Italy, recruits studying at the nearby Academy of the Forestry Corps planted 20,000 black Austrian pines [Pinus nigra Arnoldii] to spell out DUX, Mussolini’s title in Latin. Meant to pay homage to the fascist then-dictator, the outcome was an arboreal inscription so grand in scale that it was – and still is today – visible from Rome, some 100 kilometers away. The project not only changed the landscape and the ecosystem of the area—that species of fir tree was not endemic to the region— but also represented a prime example of the fascist appropriation of landscapes to mark the regime’s domination of both the country and its nature. Yet, this topiary forest was also an impressive work of environmental engineering that might be credited with stabilizing the mountainside, thus saving the town of Antrodoco from landslides and floods. This controversial formation stood intact until August 2017 when a fire, deemed an accident, burned down part of the forest, altering the ecosystem again and giving rise to a critical conversation about the meanings and values of this entanglement of landscape manipulation, ecosystem adaptation, and fascist legacy. Supported by an ACLS Fellowship, my research investigates this divisive political landscape situated at the intersection of landscape history, socio-political materiality, and ecological narrative to answer the key question: can a forest be fascist?

Aaron Katzeman - “Isolation or Alienation?: Revisiting Land Art Through the Agrarian Question”

“Isolation is the essence of Land Art.” Concluding his 1980 Artforum writeup on The LightningField (1977), the American artist Walter De Maria offered a characterization of canonical 1960s and 1970s Land Art that has long circumscribed its critical reception. For De Maria, isolation—a feeling imbued within the viewer via the work’s installation, often in desolate locations of the U.S. Southwest—was indispensable to Land Art’s significance. Equally wary of De Maria’s ostentatious assertion and the simple dismissal of Land Art as “a kind of colonization” (Lippard 2006), I revisit Land Art’s legacy by foregrounding not sensory isolation but, rather, the political, economic, and culture processes leading to alienation from the land itself. While this shift might imply a potential self-reflexive relationship between American Land Art and concurrent global decolonization movements struggling against alienation, such a conversation was never initiated at the time, in part because primitive accumulation remained absent in Land artists’ analytical approach (Morris 1980). To mend this generative gap, I instead examine contemporary artists whose work engages Black, Indigenous, and peasant struggles through the “agrarian question,” or the dispossession of land and erasure of agricultural existence for the development of capitalism. From Apsáalooke (Crow) artist Wendy Red Star’s tipi sculptures about reservations to Afro-Brazilian artist Jaime Lauriano’s banners referencing the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, among others, these artists embrace aesthetic strategies similar to Land Art yet address the historic and ongoing effects of colonialism and imperialism, offering radical new potentialities of land, art, and liberation.

Sarah J. Moore - “Neither Land nor Landscape: Time Landscape as In-Between Formation”

In 1978, a twenty-five by forty- foot rectangular plot at the northeast corner of La Guardia Place and West Houston Street, New York City, was transformed into a slowly developing forest that recreated the sylvan landscape of Manhattan inhabited by Indigenous North Americans and encountered by European settlers in the early 17th century.  Conceived by Alan Sonfist, following research on precolonial botany, geology, and history, Time Landscape was initially planned to represent distinct stages of forest grown.  However, it quickly lost its crisp boundaries between grasses, saplings, and grown trees and is now, 44-years since its planting, a verdant forest in miniature.  In contrast to monumental earthworks from the same era that involved rapid transformations of often remote sites—Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, 1970, for example—Sonfist employed the slow process of time and regional flora as his medium within a dense urban setting.  Evoking seed banks of the 19th century that collected nearly extinct flora with the hope of preserving nature for future generations, and the work of many artists of the time who sought to capture a landscape that was rapidly receding due to the “ravages of the axe,” as Thomas Cole cautioned in 1836, Time Landscape addresses a complex and uncertain future and questions of sustainability.  Moreover, Time Landscape blurs the boundaries between materiality—the miniature forest itself—and its production.  Neither land nor landscape, Time Landscape is an in-between formation and a durable decolonizing visual practice that upsets the logic of such binaries as “nature” and “culture.”

Justyce Bennett - “​​Crucian Confusion: Memory-Making on the Island of St. Croix”

The paintings of the Danish West Indies—now the United States Virgin Islands—by naval officer Frederik von Scholten, amateur artist and brother of the governor-general of the islands, tell of an exotic locale ripe for colonialism. These scenes of enslaved laborers serving a white upper class, sweeping views of plantations, and the whimsical and iconic windmills of the islands have created a lush and romanticized view of the Danish West Indies, including St. Croix, the largest island. The physical Crucian landscape serves as a historical document that explores the less idyllic history of violence and resistance. Dotting the island are the ruins of sugar plantations, baobab trees, and two of the largest rum factories in the world, Cruzan Rum and Captain Morgan’s. Unfortunately, these landmarks frequently become disassociated with their complicated colonial pasts. Social media feeds and tourist blogs contain dozens of pictures of smiling faces exploring the ruins or horseback riding through the plantations. Not captured in these images, however, are the Crucians combatting poor water quality due to historical and modern-day rum manufacturing and the commodification of Black trauma. This presentation explores these tensions by studying the history of imperialism, land and archival theft, and material culture on the island while also laying bare the active threat of continued exploitation and natural disasters, highlighting the importance of local cultural sovereignty.

Danika Cooper  - “Returning Land, Expanding Landscape”

In the United States, land is often defined solely by its ecological characteristics, geographical positioning, and legal structures of ownership. These normative, and narrow, definitions omit and exclude other ways of knowing landscape, fundamentally contributing to and upholding uneven distributions of power that perpetuate ongoing and violent dispossessions of Indigenous peoples from their land. (Re)thinking landscape in the context of calls for LandBack requires a profound shift in how we define land and how it is centered in the study, history, and practice of place-making. As such, a reparative future demands (1) theorizing ‘land’ as pluralistic, rooted in

overlapping and distinct cultures, traditions, and historical contexts; 1 and (2) radically reshaping the environment by returning land to Indigenous peoples from these expanded definitions and legal frameworks. In this presentation, I focus on two Indigenous Nations from the United States—Tongva and Zuni—to illustrate the ways historicizing expansive, pluralistic definitions of land can redefine human-nature relations. Though both nations have historically and continue today to occupy parts of the US aridlands, their socio-cultural, historic, and legal relationships to land differ. Today, Tongva is not recognized by the US federal government and have no reservation lands. Almost all of their ancestral and sacred lands are paved over by Los Angeles sprawl. Zuni are federally recognized with a small reservation that covers only a minor portion of their ancestral homelands. The lands surrounding their reservation are primarily managed by the US Forestry Service and Bureau of Land Management, federal agencies that are guided by the national conservation movement and under pressure to extract capital from the environment.

Beatrice Szymkowiak - “Contemporary Indigenous Mapping Poetics”

Settler colonial maps are an act of circumscribing, literally “surrounding with writing.” By naming a land and tracing its borders, settler colonialism appropriates land as territory. As colonizers settled America, they brutally rearranged the landscape from land to territory, through genocide, removal and relocation of Indigenous peoples. This reorganization was carried out through the English written language: renaming of places, land cession treaties, ‘Indian’ laws, and many other texts, violently pressed upon Indigenous peoples and land. It was also accompanied by an interdiction of Indigenous languages, deeply connected to the land through oral and visual literacies. These oppressive colonial texts still scar Indigenous landscapes and affect Indigenous communities for whom, as Jace Weaver (Cherokee) underlines, these landscapes “are central to their faith and their identity” (That the People Might Live 38).

This paper will explore how contemporary Indigenous poets respond to the coercive, settler colonial maps, by another act of language: an innovative mapping poetics. Through this poetics, some Indigenous poets expose and counter settler colonial maps by using intertextuality and subverting textual landscapes. Some also write landscapes back into movement against the static and dislocating boundaries of territory. Finally, mapping poetics often critically re-negotiates Indigenous oral and visual literacies within written English, thus re-establishing an Indigenous “textual continuum” (29), as Christopher Teuton (Cherokee) posits in Deep Waters, and land continuum. Works studied in this paper will include poetry by Allison Hedge Coke (mixed ancestry), Laura Da’ (Shawnee), Michael Wasson (Nimíipuu), Esther Belin (Diné), James Thomas Stevens (Mohawk Akwesasne), Craig Santos Perez (CHamoru), and Sherwin Bitsui (Diné).

Ryan Conrath - “Landscapes of Labor and Imagination: The Cinema of Karimah Ashadu”

The topic of landscape has occupied a central position film scholarship over the last two decades. More recently, much of this work has mobilized around the question of the Anthropocene, the name scientists have given to our current geological epoch on account of a human planetary footprint so profound as to be detectable in the future fossil record. How might cinema provide novel ways of depicting this entanglement, but also of thinking through its consequences and possible forms of redress? This paper looks to the filmmaking practice of Karimah Ashadu as an attempt to rethink and remake landscape from the vantage of labor, extraction, and environmental stewardship in the context of postcolonial West African history. Over the last decade, Ashadu has trained her eye on shifting environmental and labor relations underlying the work of sand merchants, butchers, sawmillers, and tin miners in Nigeria. Her work effects a unique blending of ecological, anthropological, and geographic topoi at once to document the abiding legacy of colonialism on contemporary landscapes of labor and, often concomitantly with the subjects of her films, to imagine novel and more sustainable relationships between humans and the land. At the same time, Ashadu’s work emerges from, and issues a corrective to the art historical discourse of land art as well as that of experimental landscape film, both of which have largely elided questions of race and colonialism. In reading Ashadu’s cinema along these lines, I turn to scholars who have critically reframed landscape around questions of identity and place, including Yifu Tuan, Édouard Glissant, Ebenezer Obadare and Tiffany King.

Denis Brotto - “Enchanted Mountains: The Invention of Landscape Through Forms of Vision, From Pictorial Detail to Photographic Enlargement”

“Enchanted Mountains” is the title of a series of photographic works made by Michelangelo Antonioni, starting from some of his paintings. But “Enchanted Mountains” is also an extraordinary example of how the forms of vision have the possibility to recreate the idea of landscape, to renew our concept of landscape.

In “Enchanted Mountains”, the final work is given neither by the individual paintings nor by their specific photographic reproduction, but by the enlargement of small details of these paintings, capable of generating a radically renewed relationship between work and gaze. The enlargement of these pictorial details, in fact, generates a process capable of revealing a new reality: a series of photographic “blow ups” intended to create mountain peaks where, originally, there were only spots of color, chromatic matter, features of Informalism.

This delicate relationship between detail and photographic enlargement characterizes not only the work for cinema (and photography) made by Antonioni, but also the work of other contemporary authors, such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Terence Malick, Patricio Guzman, Kleber Mendonça Filho, until the case represented by Anthropocene (2019), the documentary created by Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. In this one movie, the landscape is represented by the detail of the space to the vast immensity, through a sort of informal vision made with the same matter and form that composes the deepest layers of the earth: an intimate and personal reworking of reality itself which reimagines a landscape through the techniques and forms of vision.

Matthias Grotkopp, Yvonne Pfeilschifter, Leona Schleicher - “Rock solid? – Poetics of Landscapes in Movement”

The worlds we experience in the cinema and on other screens shape the way we perceive our planet. In the face of anthropogenic climate change, not only landscapes and habitats are changing, the ways we understand ourselves as embodied agents in this world need to as well. Technology plays an essential part in this search for new ways of seeing, hearing, experiencing nature and wildlife. A mountain range may seem rock solid yet will be different in our experience depending on how it is portrayed. Drones shooting footage in 4K or gyro-stabilized cameras, e.g. shown by Netflix in Our Planet, produce the smoothest of movements through rough terrain altogether creating a sense of stability and control in the vastness of widescreen long shots accompanied by an uplifting score. But new ways of production and interaction through social media platforms open up more diverse approaches to landscapes. The rise of mobile phone based audiovisual applications has transformed viewing habits and aesthetic sensibilities, even challenging the dominance of horizontally oriented aspect ratios upheld since the beginning of film technology. Filming landscapes vertically fundamentally changes our perspective, necessitating movement and eschewing the traditional emulation of a binocular field of vision and its periphery. How might these changing visual paradigms interact with each other and affect the way we perceive and conceptualize our environment between spectacle and ecological pedagogy? How do technologies of making, processing and viewing audiovisual images shape the way we experience the world and how do they move landscapes to finally move us?

Caterina Franciosi - “Making Land into Landscape: Scientific Visualization and Embodied Experience in Karl Bodmer’s Views of the American West”

The German naturalist Maximilian of Wied and landscape artist Karl Bodmer’s westward expedition through North America (1832-34) was an ambitious struggle against a freezing winter, obstructed waterways, and mysterious illnesses. Bodmer’s watercolors, published ten years later as an album of aquatints, depict the encounter with the indigenous peoples and lands of the Missouri River: his sweeping views of murky waters, geological formations, and cataclysms depict the European subject’s embodied experience of an unfamiliar environment, while also demonstrating a scientific attention to land and natural phenomena. In combining the aesthetic of the sublime with empirical observations, Bodmer’s landscapes respond to the hybrid narrative mode of Maximilian’s travel memoire, where taxonomical accounts of flora and fauna, topographical descriptions, and temperature measurements merge with the lyrical narration of nature’s multi-sensory spectacle.

In this paper, I argue that Bodmer’s landscape views share the logic of abstraction, accumulation, and reconciliation of activities of scientific observation carried out during the expedition. By comparing Bodmer’s aquatints with Maximilian’s data-gathering narrative, meteorological charts, and maps, I identify how the artist borrowed his representational mode from the domain of scientific recording and visualization. Images and data across the text and album, I argue, seek collectively to transform land into landscape: to make the American West aesthetically intelligible and empirically knowable. By teasing out the statistical, cartographic, and taxonomic impulse of Bodmer’s landscape views, I also reveal their reliance on the displacement of indigenous subjectivities and epistemologies, as well as their relationship to material techniques of land dispossession, extraction, and environmental destruction.

Justin Carville - “Post-Famine Landscapes: The Colonial Picturesque and the Politics of Dispossession”

Writing to Karl Marx in 1846 during the first years of the Irish Famine, Frederick Engels, who described British policies of the administration of colonial landscapes as ‘the clearing of the estate of Ireland’, observed of the Anglo-Irish landlord; ‘Their country seats are surrounded by enormous, amazingly beautiful parks, but all around is wasteland.’ Throughout the 18 th and 19 th the Anglo-Irish transformed the Irish landscape into an image of itself through the picturesque landscaping of landed estates, and the destruction through under-development of territory superfluous to colonial spatialization. This created a landscape in which dispossession was laid bare; a landscape of stark contrasts between the ‘civilised’ and ‘civilizing’ picturesque landscapes of settler colonialists, and the desolate wilderness of the indigenous population. This paper explores the aesthetic expression of what Engels described as the ‘clearing of the estate’ through the post-famine photography of the Anglo-Irish. From the late 1850s, photography became embedded in the cultural life of the Irish Big Houses where it was incorporated into the appropriation of Ireland’s historical topographies through forms of what might be termed ‘aesthetic governmentality:’ the rational dispossession and reordering of colonial space as an aesthetic processes. In this paper, I argue that the Anglo-Irish erased the recent past of the of the horrors of the Irish Famine through the mobilization of photography as a technique of aesthetic governmentality; narrowing the field of vision and visual attention to colonized space devoid of traces of the famine, and focused instead on antiquarian ruins that expressed the triumph of possession of Ireland’s historical topographies.

Mark Cladis - “Landscapes and Ruins in Du Bois and Silko: Sites of Pain and Injustice, Hope and Transformation”

It is productive to reflect on the pain and hope posed by the landscape imagery of ruins in the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois and Leslie Silko against the backdrop of Romanticism. Du Bois (who writes of the ruined slave plantation) and Silko (who writes of the ruined, abandoned uranium mine) employ the trope of the ruin that is continuous with, but also transformative of, Romantic notions of “the ruin.” I depict two Romantic conceptions of ruins: 1) the picturesque ruin as a visible image of a bygone age of simplicity and spiritual wholeness; and 2) the hidden ruin as a trace of past oppression but also spiritual hope. Against these two contrasting employments of the ruin, I then limn the ways that Du Bois and Silko radically extend and transform the second notion of the landscape ruin—the concealed ruin that, when discerned, discloses past oppression as well as current resilience. The imagery of the ruin in Du Bois’ and Silko’s work challenges even the most progressive forms of Romanticism, introducing the catastrophe of white supremacy and anti-Black racism and multiple forms of settler colonialism, including displacing, poisoning, and plundering Indigenous populations. My presentation, then, seeks to identify in Romanticism a conservative and progressive form of the landscape ruin, and then to contrast both forms to the ruin as found in Du Bois and Silko—ruins that express pain and injustice as well as sources of hope and the potential for transformation.

Zannah Matson - “Re-Painting the Forest: Radical landscape art and visual representation of tropical forests in Latin America”

The relationship between landscape and image, which has been largely developed though the European tradition of landscape painting, has been foundational for the ways in which landscapes across the world have been observed, circulated, and categorized according to the logic of rational scientific epistemes. In the Latin American context, this form of landscape visuality was used in both the colonial and post-independence eras to reinforce and naturalize racial difference, categorize landscapes of the ‘other’, and portray landscapes as peripheral sites of resources to support the metropole. Despite these long histories of landscape visuality as a method of colonial control, radical acts of looking and envisioning landscapes as relational, contested, and emancipatory spaces, can be read in the archive of landscape representation. So, although in the quote above Luis Camnitzer grapples with the legacies of visuality in contemporary art, in this paper I consider radical re- imaginings of visual representations of tropical forests within Latin America that suggest potential for landscape art that move well beyond colonial landscape precedent. Specifically, I share and engage with the work of artists José Gamarra, Abel Rodríguez, and Jonier Marin to understand how their approaches to landscape art provide powerful countervisulaities that contest the ways these forests have been constructed historically and cast within contemporary discourse.1 Each of these artists work with visual mediums to depict landscape as a way of remembering, defending, and re-thinking the tropical forests of Latin America. As a contribution to the central themes of this conference, I consider the approaches of each of these artists and situate them within broader discourses of radical decolonial thought to share these meaningful strategies for resistance within the conceptualization of landscape.

I rely here on the theorization of Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Right to Look a Counterhistory of Visuality, E-Duke Books Scholarly Collection. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).

Adrian Anagnost and Leslie Geddes - “Military Ecologies in the Americas: The French Fort of La Balise”

The French fort of La Balise, built in the early eighteenth-century, was at the nexus of marshland and sea in the Mississippi River Delta. Originally, the fortified settlement aimed to protect French colonial interests and secure access to the Mississippi River at a crucial juncture. Today, due to land loss along the Gulf of Mexico, the fort lies underwater at most tides, but visual evidence remains: a series of ink and watercolor maps produced for administrative oversight and sent to the Dépôt des Fortifications des Colonies.

Recognizing both advantages and hazards of the landscape, these maps document the enmeshment of fort and the Mississippi Delta’s complex ecosystem. Passage from the Gulf of Mexico to the river was fraught with peril, evident in references to shipwrecks alongside pictorial and textual demarcations of currents and oceanic depths. Simultaneously, French mercantile and social orders were imposed on the landscape, with a brickyard and designated settlement for enslaved Africans on an adjoining island. Exploitation of natural resources and racialized spatial segregation were formative to the colonial project in the Americas. We argue that depictions of the fort’s construction, amidst the ever-shifting environs of the Gulf South, reveal how topographic variability posed difficulties to pictorial rendering. Troubling rigid conceptualizations of landscapes and seascapes, maps reveal interpenetrating salt and freshwaters, shoals, and islands. As the French sought to make militarily secure this mutable terrain, the land itself challenged visual discernment, with colonial expansion, imperial power, and enslavement set against a natural landscape that thwarted cartographic fixity.

Martabel Wasserman - “Picturing Alcatraz”

In 1969, All Tribes organizer and Mohawk activist Richard Oakes stated “Alcatraz is not an island, it is an idea.” His prophetic statement foreshadowed a wave of occupations and the idea of Alcatraz is very much alive in on-going movements against fossil capital led by water and land protectors. But Alactraz is also a place, a landscape shaped by and resistant to ideological constraints that emerge as contradictions. It is known as “the rock” due to its supposedly inhospitable terrain and yet it is also a haven for seabirds. It was fortified for defense during the Civil War, thousands of miles away from active battle. A former federal prison where “most dangerous” criminals were kept at bay two windy miles from mainland shore, it is also home to flourishing gardens cultivated by inmates. At the present, it is stewarded by National Park Services and thus imbued by the complex racialized history of environmental conservation. In this talk, I will ask, how does the history of photography of the American West inform how we rethink Alcatraz as a place and an idea? The work of Carleton Watkins, and others prominent photographers including Eadweard Muybridge, provide key insights into how the carceral landscape came to be naturalized. I argue that Alcatraz needs to be considered in relation to the history of early landscape photography of the Western United States, alongside places such as Yosemite, which have been the subject of considerable and important scholarly attention.

Grace Sparapani - “Carceral Hauntings in Paradise: The Spatial Afterlives and Alterlives of Italian Prison Islands”

This paper investigates the prison landscape of San Domino, a prison island off the eastern coast of Italy where LGBTQ+ individuals were incarcerated under Mussolini, and which has popularly been referred to as a “liberating paradise,” as it was the only place people could be openly gay at the time. Prison islands are unique in their use of landscape as carceral architecture; rather than staying confined to a building, the exiles of San Domino were allowed to roam the island during the daytime—the island edge and the surrounding ocean thus comprised their prison wall. This paper examines the ways in which landscape is thus rendered socially dead—alongside the individuals incarcerated—as it is emptied of its multiplicities to be reconceptualized as only a carceral zone. I use two films—The Red Tree (dir. Paul Rowley, 2018), which takes up the story of the island’s exiles through a combination of records and interviews with former prisoners, and Poison (dir. Todd Haynes, 1991), which offers a fictional account of a queer prison landscape—in order to also explore how this carceral space butts up against queer space in the broader landscape of Mussolini’s Italy. In using films, I’m able to consider how prison landscapes operate in the popular imagination, especially in relation to queerness. The Red Tree also offers a well-rounded look at San Domino’s status as a landscape that both allowed open expression of queerness and was ultimately only able to do so under the umbrella of incarceration, while Poison offers an idealized queer prison landscape in Baton Boys Reformatory alongside which to read the real San Domino landscape.

Cecilio M. Cooper - “Netherward: Athanasius Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus [1665]”

Via a demonological lens, my paper examines how debates around Atlantic World landscape, (sub)surface space, and cartography are imbued with a disavowed sense of chthonic blackness. Rather than treat land as a flat synecdoche of territory in which a part stands in for the whole, I instead approach cosmographic territory as a rich volumetric amalgam comprised of celestial, terrestrial, and aquatic elements. Thinking territoriality multi-dimensionally further necessitates troubling how activities on the planetary surface overshadow the significance that subsurface (underground/underwater) phenomena have held within cosmological systems. As portrayed by imagery in Athanasius Kircher’s seventeenth-century compendium Mundus Subterraneous (Subterranean World), I discuss how underground arenas have been mapped as dark habitats for fire, supernatural entities, and decay. Key selections from this encyclopedic volume raise similarly important questions about the role of visuality in shaping early modern subjectivity and worldmaking. Sewers, mines, caves, crypts, roots, and worms likewise populate the earthly recesses beneath us. Signaling geographic location and cosmological import, this occulted realm is an infernal site situated between Earth’s crust and core. Subterranean registers underlie ecological layers stretching up from the globe’s immediate terraqueous surface to celestial extremes above. My research finds that territorialization of space underfoot is theologically inflected by Man’s fall from Edenic grace as well as Satan’s mirrored expulsion from heaven. When the cisgender heterosexual dyad Adam + Eve plummet from sacred lofts toward the sinful earthly plane, the prototypical humans draw nearer to abyssal hell below.

Sara Jensen Carr - “Underground Economies: Landscapes of Mythology, Science, and Labor in the Black Hills”

On the surface, the mythology and imagery of the 1876 Gold Rush defines the landscapes of the adjacent towns of Lead and Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota. For over 100 years after the rush, Lead’s Homestake Mine continued its operations as the largest and deepest gold mine in North America. However, the attachment to this history quite literally obscures the complexity of labor, Indigenous sacredness, and most unexpectedly, cutting-edge neutrino and dark matter research in the form of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, locally known as the Sanford Lab, which now fully occupies the site.

This paper explores how the Sanford Lab is not the only literal or metaphorical “underground economy” that drives capital in the state. Rather it is exemplary of a modern history of hidden industries run by distal, faceless entities that operate in the physical hollows of the Black Hills, including deactivated nuclear missile silos that dot farmland, networks of underground bunkers marketed to wealthy apocalypse preppers, and tax haven laws that prop up invisible corporations that only physically exist there as post office boxes. The tension between the surface-level Western landscape imaginary that is sold to tourists and locals and what lies beneath is becoming increasingly thin, manifesting in social, economic, and environmental ruptures that bring this complex history to light.

Desiree Valadares - “Thinking Like a Gulch: Pacific War Heritage, Settler Lands and Subsurface Toxic Uncertainties in O‘ahu”

Honouliuli’s gulch landscape is an unstable ground with contested land claims. The 122.5-acre National Historic Site is a partially submerged landscape in the plantation fields of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. This paper explores the topographical instability of the Honouliuli Gulch through an embodied and engaged ethnographic perspective. I trace its multiple and overlapping functions as a sugar plantation ditch, a Second World War prisoner-of-war (POW) and civilian internment camp, and as a newly designated heritage site in O‘ahu’s central plains. I argue that Honouliuli’s gulch landscape requires alternate modes of preservation and landscape remediation to understand its toxic uncertainties and contested land claims. To do so, I draw from the “volumetric turn” which is a scholarly discourse in architecture and political geography, that argues that space must be understood in three-dimensional terms—with complex heights and depths—instead of as a horizontal, fixed, terrestrial surface. Although the study of volumetric space is prominent to geography and architecture, there is a dominant emphasis on upward verticality, atmospheres, and the aerial perspective. I argue that the subsurface, partially submerged grounds, and the underground are fruitful areas to explore in bringing together volumetric geographies, settler colonialism and toxic sedimentation. This paper engages this intersection through a series of encounters in the gulch.

Hyperion Çaca Yvaire - “Notes From The Fyrthyr: A Performative Method Of Landscape Curation Contribution Towards A Multispecies Jurisprudence” 

The planet is in a design process of removing the human from its deluded position as the ecological center. The Fyrthyr is a place to be kept from which concerned denizens may disrupt the style of social practice and cultural administration that reinforces the dichotomy of the human and the non-human in the public that is pervasive in settler art institutions with political programming. The Fyrthyr shapes its activity from within the parameters of the RANT, a performative landscape curation method designed to disrupt that dichotomy. RANT presents four areas of action: 1) Refusing a contemporary futuring condition, 2) Aiming for a public alternative, 3) the materiality of Negotiating with the dead, and 4) the poetics of Trusting the living. This method may contribute to shaping cultural and congressional spaces, may serve the alternative claim making of the present and future Indigenous resurgences, has been adopted by the Northeast Farmers of Color LandTrust as a critical practice to advance and defend land sovereignty.

Anthony Romero - “The Place Where the Creek Goes Underground: Protocols for Consent in Public Art”

The Place Where the Creek Goes Underground: Protocols for Consent in Public Art, is an intervention into the discourses of public art and land-based art practices that reflects the teachings of Indigenous communities along the Texas-Mexico border. This developing research project serves as a reflection on my pandemic journey to recommit and reclaim our traditional medicine and lifeways as a detribalized indigenous person from the Texas borderlands, and an effort to contribute to the indigenizing of public art discourse. Weaving story and theory, this paper attempts to not only articulate indigenous land-based art praxis but to do so in a way that provides audiences with a set of protocols that empowers them to develop cultural practices that are rooted in a consensual and reciprocal relationship to land. Protocols include asking for permission, laying down an offering, walking lightly, building mutuality, respect for peoples and lands, remembering your obligations, and gratitude. This work could not exist without the incredible community of Black, Brown, and Indigenous artists, curators, administrators, and knowledge keepers with whom I have the privilege of sharing time and space with.

Tom Looser - “Thinking With (and Against) Ocean Landscapes; Categorical Shifts in Transpacific Modernities”

The very idea of landscape, both within art and philosophy, is fundamentally tied to the modern (and Western modernity in particular). It describes a subject position, a mode of thinking, and a way of constructing relations between the human subject and the world. It is an aesthetic form, that is inevitably also political and economic. The trajectory of landscape has not necessarily been a happy one; one of the strategies of critical response—recent, but with some historical depth—has been a turn to thinking in terms of oceanic relations. This paper takes up these issues in terms of East Asia, which has had a fraught but instructive relation to Western modernity in general and to the Western idea of landscape in particular. I set up a genealogy of what might loosely be called “oceanic” aesthetics in modern Japan, and in the recent emphasis on viewing East Asia in terms of a transpacific lens. The focus is on two moments of historical crisis and change—the 1970’s and our own time—and on two very different locations of colonized modernity, Japan and Hawai’i. Examples are drawn from art and urban studies (including attempts to revitalize indigenous ideas in Hawai’i) in particular. Each of these becomes a means to consider how an oceanic relation to the world might or might not effectively critique the “continental” logic of modernity. Landscape is thus taken as an ideal category through which to consider the role of aesthetics in materializing historical change, and a different world.

Phoebe Springstubb - “Ice Cellars and Reservoirs of History: Frozen-Earth Landscapes of Arctic Siberia and North America”

Central to Arctic landscapes from Siberia to North America is perennially frozen ground—the unique geophysical aggregate of rock, soil, and ice better known as permafrost. A topography of hummocks, karst, and ice wedges created through millennia-long accumulations of seasonal frost, permafrost’s subterranean volumes can reach thousands of feet into the earth. Popular media and Western science have focused on permafrost’s capacity as a carbon sink storing twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, a role now threatened by warming temperatures. But this conception of permafrost as universalized scientific material neglects its long history as a specific human landscape which has been worked, maintained, and relied on by Indigenous whalers, pastoralists, and hunters. Attending to regional understandings of frozen ground over the long nineteenth century, this paper proposes a historical counter-narrative. I use visual and material culture to examine how permafrost was a critical technology, a source for understanding Arctic and subarctic ecologies, and a guide to landscape transformation that built on individual and inherited experiences with frozen ground. Communities of the Beaufort Sea region carved deep permafrost cellars timbered with whalebone to sustain foodways. Sakha herders integrated the ground’s frost-heaving cycles into pasturing practices. Chukchi bone traders, excavating mammoths to sell at tusk yards, understood permafrost’s extraordinary power in preserving historical fragments well before European naturalists theorized geological ages. In centering these histories, the paper analyzes the reliance of contemporary permafrost epistemologies on histories of applied military engineering and colonial territorial control. It asks what a more capacious historical understanding of this chronostratigraphic landscape might offer to present-day discourse on cultural preservation and Indigenous sovereignty.

William Schaefer - “Patch, Line, Grid: Wang Youshen, Paul Klee, and Landscape Mosaics”

Wang Youshen’s installation Mei pingmi (Per square meter) (2014) reconfigures urban ecosystems: Wang juxtaposes fragments of drywall from his repeatedly demolished art studios into square mosaics; mosaics of square photographs of surrounding landscapes; and square composites of film, water, soil, and seeds. Wang theorises the square meter as “a countable unit of measurement…[,] uncontrollable everyday behavior…[, and] sustainable artistic production”––the artificiality and violence of economic abstraction of land into equal units, whose boundaries cut across the land’s ecological flows, in tension with the aleatory transformations of art-making, human behaviour, and ecological processes.

Per Square Meter engages with what landscape ecologist Richard Forman calls land mosaics: ecological forms of patches, corridors, and matrices created by and determining interactions and flows of humans, other organisms, energy, and the media of water and land. Forman conceptualized landscape ecologies in terms of art media, drawing upon concepts of point, line, and plane which Bauhaus artist Paul Klee derived through study of natural forms, and likening the size and boundaries of ecological forms to analogue photography’s framing, focus, grain, and resolution.

Tracking between Wang’s processes of photographing and collaging into grids, and Klee’s and Forman’s ecological and pictorial thinking, this presentation explores relationships between art-making and landscape ecosystems and proposes that photography is an ecological rather than realist medium. The materiality and pictorial forms of photographs emerge from and disintegrate into––and critically reimagine––larger ecosystems and natural and human-driven processes of destruction and growth, disturbance and circulation, dislocation and belonging that constitute landscapes.

Kayla Roulhac - “Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee: Hidden History, Missing Memorialization, and Heritage Tourism”

Centennial Park is a staple of downtown Nashville, Tennessee because of its founding after the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition in 1897, and also for the urban green space it provides for contemporary residents and visitors. A family-friendly space is presented to the visitors, yet there is a history of slavery within the park boundaries and Black removal. The lack of acknowledgement of the former plantation, the later removal of an African American university nearly adjacent to Vanderbilt University, and the modern presence of a Confederate monument in this space brings about questions regarding the memory of this particular landscape and the unethical practice of how it is being presented to visitors. The methods of archival analysis and semi-structured interviews with museum employees, Vanderbilt representatives, and members of the Centennial Park Conservancy will be used to extract information regarding the missing Black history of this landscape in comparison to the fragmented and whitewashed accounts that are largely represented. The findings will include information on those that were enslaved on this land and insight on the recurring fires that led to the closing of the African American college, Roger Williams University. This research contributes to ongoing scholarship regarding discussions about the presence of Confederate monuments and how divisive they can be. The study also helps to reframe the history of downtown Nashville in an inclusive way and addresses the larger questions of what stories are being told and the impacts of these narratives.

Morgan Vickers - “‘Pushing Back the Darkness’: Dispossessing Black Lives and Inundating Black Ecologies in New Deal South Carolina”

This paper calls attention to the 1939 Santee Cooper Hydroelectric Project, a New Deal project

that submerged 901 majority-Black family homes and hundreds of thousands of acres of swampland and forests in the creation of two hydroelectric dams and reservoirs in central South Carolina. Using a Black Ecological framework, I interrogate how the unmaking of Black lives and Black landscapes, and the simultaneous homogenization of the land via the inundation of “unclean” landscapes are part of the same maneuver of racial capitalism in which Black lives and ecologies are destroyed for white progress and profit. I center the Black people who labored on, stewarded, and resisted the inundation of the land in the early 20th century. I chronicle the antediluvian lives of Black folk in the region, mark the moment of community inundation, and theorize from the reservoir floor, illuminating the material and social consequences of clearcutting millions of trees, displacing thousands of people, and destroying historical landscapes. I open up space for what Romy Opperman calls “a reservoir of historical alternatives” (2021), call attention to what Teona Williams calls an “unmappable elsewhere” (2021), and make a case for what Isabel Hofmeyr deemed, “underwater sites as places of analytical possibility” (2020). I argue that the unfolding of the Santee Cooper Project is one of the clearest demonstrations of how the existence of rural Black communities and ecologies in the South was seen as antithetical to the New Deal goal of “American progress,” and therefore needed to be destroyed.

Amanda Hardin Martin - “Dreaming with Du Bois: The Niagara Movement & Making Historical Black Landscapes”

In 1905, W.E.B. Du Bois co-founded the Niagara Movement, which eventually became the precursor to the N.A.A.C.P. Named for Niagara Falls, the organization called for bold political action to obtain civil rights for African Americans in the era of Jim Crow. The Niagara Movement used Niagara Falls, an iconic American landscape, as a metaphor for the type of powerful political momentum they wanted to enact. ​​The Falls, they asserted, conveyed the collective force and urgent energy that the early movement for civil rights required.

The fact that one of the most significant early civil rights organizations used an iconic American landscape as its central political metaphor and namesake has elicited very little—if any—historical analysis. This paper will center around a few key questions raised by the Niagara Movement, including: why did Du Bois and its other founders make Niagara Falls a symbol for early civil rights activism, and why does that matter historically? How can analyzing the “nature” of civil rights reveal new insights about race, place, and the social meaning of landscapes in American history? And, how can the history of the Niagara Movement expand our understanding of Black landscapes in the United States? Much of the current scholarship that explores the intersections of civil rights and the non-human environment begins with the environmental racism movement in the late 20 th century. However, an analysis of the Niagara Movement offers not just a new chronology, but also a more comprehensive understanding of the long Black freedom struggle and its myriad goals across the twentieth century.

Sean Connelly – Life and Land After Oceanic: Reintroducing Honolulu to the Continental United States with Experimental Cartographies, Architecture, and Art 

In the case of Hale‘iwa, Hawai‘i, the environment around ‘Uko‘a Loko Ea Fishpond brings you cone shave ice via US military railgun installed on a civilian commuter rail built for tourism and commercial agriculture around the Island of O‘ahu in 1898. Concepts like Teresia Teaiwa’s “mili-tourism” suffice to accurately describe the built environment of Honolulu today, where military and tourism are both medium and process of urbanism, in this case US urbanism. ‘Uko‘a Loko Ea Fishpond’s lands have been continuously developed since 1898, and over time, altered through federal policy, state legislation, state land use, and city zoning in the form of projects to build a sugar plantation, a railway, a marsh arch bridge, an art deco State park, a US EPA sanctioned landfill, a USACE constructed boat harbor, a highway, and commercial redevelopments completed as recently as 2018. Using spatial modeling often employed in architecture as a historical methodology focused on mapping physical or experiential landscapes—places like ‘Uko‘a Loko Ea Fishpond can be analyzed according to the means by which the built environment may have come into being as a Native Hawaiian fishpond occupied by the United States. In art, design, and planning contexts, historic analysis of transformation of Hawai‘i built environments provide precedent to consider the future possibility for large-scale radical interventions, like possibly removing the highway, or remediating the former wetland beneath the landfill, in service of recovering the fishpond for sustainability, biocultural restoration, and cultural practice and advancement, toward the Native recovery of ‘āina (land/that which feeds).

Olanrewaju Lasisi - “Aroya Odu and the Yoruba’s Representation of Heaven on Earth”

In 1932 Stanley Milburn, a British colonial administrator, walked through Abeokuta, a town in the southwestern part of Nigeria. Milburn was curious about the Yoruba, documenting many Orisha traditions and the Yoruba ways of life. At Abeokuta, he came across a huge motif drawn on the wall of a house-in-ruin. Milburn was quick to document this motif. Nine decades after Milburn’s drawing of the motif, no scholarship has delved into the intricacies of the drawing, particularly its actual meaning, in relation to the Yoruba worldview. This paper uses the indigenous hermeneutics of proverbs and the Yoruba creation stories to interpret the motif as the Yoruba idea of everything, the basis of which inspired their organization of the landscape through their understanding of the skyscape. This motif falls under the category of the Yoruba artistic expression referred to as “Aroya” (to think and to draw). This paper describes the thought process of the Aroya artist, whose aim was to provide a narrative of the workings on earth, one that mimics that of the heavens. Drawing on the Aroya, this paper provides landscape evidence that contextualizes the Yoruba conceptual idea of the skyscape.

John Timberlake - “Dead Kingdoms and Caves of Gems: Ecological Anxieties and the modelling of the Lunar Other in Science Fiction Landscapes”

NASA’s plan to return humans to the Moon in 2024 revives not only Buzz Aldrin’s famous account of ‘magnificent desolation’, but the wider contexts for visualising Moonscapes in an age of terrene ecological crisis. The Moon’s astrological associations of beauty and serenity have never eclipsed the prospect of Earth’s landscapes becoming moonscapes – whether through bombing, ecological disaster or both. Despite their foremost role as facilitators of conflictual action, the visual excesses of the lunar landscapes of science fiction can be read as indices of contemporary ecological anxiety in their own right.  As such, science fiction’s visualisations of the Moon are a working through of our futurological picturing of the Earth itself. 

This paper takes as its starting point a quote from Pavel Klushantsev’s 1965 film Moon. Klushantsev’s groundbreaking and influential documentary used special effects to understand, through pyrotechnics and model making, the topographical features of the Moon, both as geological remnant and colonial opportunity. Ostensibly an imagining of coming Soviet triumph, in Klushantsev’s film, the Moon is defined as an ultimately terrifying Other to Earth:  the light of a ‘Strange morning – no rustle of leaves, no singing of birds, no murmuring stream’ confirms the Moon as an inversion of the Earth that has persisted in speculative fiction since Johannes Kepler’s Somnium (1634) and continues in the likes of Sebastian Cordero’s Europa Report (2013), haunted by the deeper, non-anthropocentric indexical traces of geological time. This paper will explore these in relation to our continued landscaping of our home planet.