Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mapping the unknown

Ancient courses of the Mississippi River meander belt.
Harold N.Fisk, 1944

Looking now at 'Mississippi Floods' by Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha.
This book is an interesting and beautifully executed mapping essay by the authors documenting and synthesizing maps, surveys, photography, paintings and models of the Mississippi river and its varying Meanders, Flows, Banks & Beds.

Mapping as the first act of agency, seeks to create order in the undefinable. An entity as powerful as a river or a wadi, which is also inconstantly changing and is manifested in a scale beyond human comprehension both in time and space is not simply harnessed. The map, as a base for the plan is an extremely powerful mechanism in defining the existing, forgetting the unwanted and prophesying the future.

I am now struggling with how to map wadi Pharan, on which little information is available. This is a crucial moment which has implications on the argument, the organization of information and ultimately the proposal. The scarcity of existing information on itself is evidence of an alternate set of priorities, favoring certain investigations than others. From a more positive standpoint, finding that appropriate 'voice' to a map enables a more sensitive interaction.

"The elusiveness of these terrains has not stopped the corps from pursuing their definition. The efforts of the corps have resulted in interventions that match the Mississippi in magnificence. These interventions have an impact not only on the river but on larger lands of the Mississippi's making. They also bring life to these lands, forcing them into the inexhaustible gray zone between man and river that marks the lower Mississippi landscape." (p.9)