Earth, water, air
Kinga Murawska & Marijne Kreulen
Currently, the relationship between humans and matter is one of control and operationalisation. This is reflected in interventions that aim to fixate river dynamics, optimise soil for agriculture by means of fertilisers, and harvest energy by placing hydro-electric dams along rivers. The human occupation of land, sea and air is increasing to enable the extraction of matter on a monumental scale. On land, processes of deforestation have a direct effect on both water and air systems, causing the reduction of water discharge upstream and CO2 uptake. At sea, increasing air temperatures cause sea ice to regress, allowing the expansion of oil extraction. Traces of the present and historic occupation can be found in the remnants of anthropogenic material, such as particulate matter concentrations in the air or pesticides and debris accumulated in the sediments.
In other areas that enforce less control, the natural dynamics of matter threaten human living, as is the case in some northern coastal areas, where rising air temperatures cause soil frost to decrease, leaving the land exposed to water fluctuation and severe erosion.
In addition to natural and anthropogenic influences, the pressure of climate change works as a catalyst, magnifying existing issues to the point of extreme unbalance. It is the accumulation of these three pressures that now cause matter to change beyond our capacity of control, resulting in a new, hybrid matter, which has different properties, dynamics and states. For example, eutrophication (changing properties), artificial coastlines (change of dynamics) and regressing sea ice (change of state). With anthropogenic matter as a contextual basis, the urban project has to be considered both an appropriation and commodification, that carefully designs its impact on matter – as an interplay between control and release.
Erasure, flux, translations, terraforming
Laura Conijn & Cas Goselink
Inquiring the representation of Topos in a territorial project entails both sequences of spatiality and temporality, as it appears through the processes that form-, and erase land. Implicit motions, laterally and longitudinally, shape the multitude of perceptions and sensations of the landscape, observed through the lens of natural processes of sedimentation and erosion versus anthropogenic disturbance events interfering within them. Complex volumes of soil, sole manifestations of past fluidity of marine- and riverine territory through the fixation of sediment, show the ever moving suspension of soil in water. Iterating onto itself through the duality of the formation and degradation processes, creating past, present and future.
Now, within the anthropogenic territory, tension appears through the formation of fields, structures and objects of an infrastructural nature. These rigid remnants of civilization, anchoring human activity onto the territory, unable to achieve the state of fluidity as demanded by the rapidly changing environmental conditions and processes encroaching upon us. Physical barriers are formed to actively destabilize and manipulate natural processes on the long- and short term, in order to create an engineered system of transposition without translation and migration. The mutual engagement of water and sand particles, once the core of terraforming and erasure, diminished to the sheer exchange of anthropogenic pollutants and materials within a rigid field of an ever growing gap between the human and natural territory. Infrastructure will, throughout the climactic zones, across the globe, lead to destabilization of our contemporary representation of Topos on either the short term through shock, or the long term through stressors on the environmental layer. Infrastructure, our vertical alignment with the soil, anchoring humanity, disabling horizontal movement of mankind.
Wall, Julia. “North Carolina Flooding”. Accessed on January 26, 2021. https://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/post-launch-images/2020/09/gettyimage-s1148956387jpgmaster/16x9_m.jpg?mw=1290&hash=AC25A83A8AD9AAC59FB7CA666155B211
Grow, Kelly M. “Oroville Dam California”. Accessed on January 26, 2021. https://media2.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2018_04/1902221/ss-170214-oroville-dam-california-09_d6449cd0ed87f50a6d059e7b79b27fc4.fit-2000w.jpg
Mutualism, competition, diversity, entropy
Asmita Puspasari & Zhongjing Zhang
Habitat is recognized as a place or environment to dwell. It hosts life with its diverse forms and drifting anchorages with the site and the climate. Site refers to the flowing topos, including geo political narratives projected upon it. It’s not in-situ limited only on land, but extended into the sea and the air. All creatures living in nature are interrelated. As a symphony of systems, habitat is the locus where accumulation of instincts, ideas, and needs of all living creatures is manifested. From within, inhabitation can be experienced either as competition or cooperation, resonance or dissonance. Hence, Habitat is no longer perceived as an origin, it is a second origin. Forged both by natural forces and human activities, including temporal differences, habitat is altered and limited. The flow of habitats is a collection of surviving materials of values, meanings, traditions, and cultures that come from the past and let everything begin anew.
The overlying of fast-paced territorial occupation is reinforced by an acceleration of planetary imagination from humans living in close communication. It creates a vigorous movement to expeditious embodiment beyond land, seaward and even down to the body. Captured within territories, it leads to the untamed desire of rapid response to change — as if everything is in a race. As this evolving Habitat presents us with a transect from purely natural to anthropogenic territories, how can we human, depict the ‘real story’ of habitat? And how can we understand in which direction it should move towards?
Climate Regime, ethics, ownership, displacement (after belonging)
Hadrien Cassan, Jānis Bērziņš & Lucas Di Gioia
Geopolitics – “politics of earth systems”, are the socio-economic arrangements linked to geographical space where politics done by humans territorialize and arrange every human and non-human existence. An infinite set of negotiations and disputes occur, which arrange certain species, patches of forested and geological formations shaping the physical territory. In the anthropocene, humans have irreversibly become the mediators of such arrangements, dictating the boundaries, limits, and territorial dynamics over the landscape, often subjugating non-human entities to their desires.
Territorialization initiates with an intent, predominant over the multiplicity of objectives that coexist in the same territory. These intents can stem from political, economic, or environmental conditions and desires, always constrained by the territory in dispute. The Toba Caldera in Indonesia, the basins of the Red river in Vietnam and Xingu river in Brazil and the South-England coast in the North Sea depict how predominant intents for tourism, agriculture and economic development have muffled the traditional and pre-existing human and non-human voices that have inhabited and perpetuated the ecological balance of these regions.
Given sufficient power, intents are reinforced by claims, where demarcations and delenations are drawn to justify the operationalization of a territory. The drive to stimulate economic growth superimposes over the natural dynamics of the Baltic Sea in the Gulf of Riga and Vistula River. A quickly re-territorializing Barents Sea in Norway to facilitate natural resource extraction has transformed the sea into a productive seascape.
Once predominant claims have been consolidated, the need for guaranteeing control delineates and restricts other intents that have not been considered or silenced. The gradient of control can be done through governance methods, ranging in scale and implications to restrict and manage territorialization fit for purpose, leading to complete anthropogenic control over natural systems such as the riverine territories of the Ijssel and the Seine.
As the modern era of human geopolitics continues to resist yielding space for the silenced voices, we witness the urge of nature to release itself from these imposed controls. Ultimately, we call for geo-politics that are intune with the geo-systems.