Possible Bodies

Earth Grabs Back

Item number: 114
Item title: Earth Grabs Back
Entry of the item into the inventory: 10 June 2019

[exceprt from a text on disobedient bug reporting for UdK's publication "On Relation" (forthcoming) + voices gathered from Depths and Densities workshop at transmediale 2019] ->

The front of a T-shirt says: we have always been grabbers. There is a focus on the semantic network on grabbing, these gestures somehow populating the vocabularies of geomodeling software. So there is a wondering about the agency of such grabbing – how is it distributed?

GPlates for example confirms users' understanding of the earth as a surveyable object that can be spinned, rendered, grabbed and animated; as an object to be manipulated and used. As Kathryn Yusoff notes “[t]here is not geology on one hand and stories about geology on the other; rather, there is an axis of power and performance that meets within these geologic objects and the narratives they tell about the human story” 1 Gplates is very much part of this axis, by coercing certain representations options of earth itself. But it also does so through computational choices on the level of programming and infrastructure, through interface decisions, and through the way it implements the language of control on multiple levels. These choices are not surprising, they align with other geo-computation tools, other volumetric rendering tools, and with normative understandings of the agency and representations of the earth in general.

The back of the T-shirt says: Earth is for those who work it, said emiliano Zapata: la tierra es para quien la trabaja. This brings in a second layer of observation on ownership and property that is also intensively populating the vocaulary of geophysics tools.

Technology keeps referring to when you can grab the earth, and then later it continues: “you can still grab the earth”, this re-occurring.

So, as well as the static implications imposed to a stable earth that is available for grabbing, how about the earth grabs back? And that’s when we got into the T-shirts! But also the relationship to land grabbing, and how that kind of reveals a dark, heavy, violent, arbitrary actions, forced loss of possession, illegal private landholding, violent exploitations, environmental damage. How might they introduce these geotraumas into GPlates software? Then there were also some other technicalities.

source: Gplates User's Manual: http://www.gplates.org/docs/GPlates_User_Manual-2011-05-21.pdf

[this Item is connected to Item 090: Model our planet]