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Pratt SoA Provocations: Land by Design

November 8, 2021 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM


“We have long argued that the line separating water from land on the earth surface exists by design; not in where and how it is drawn, but in that it is drawn at all. We now argue that the earth surface itself exists by design, not in its manipulation with slopes, edges, and edifices, but in its existence as a separator of ‘above’ from ‘below’. Once posited, this separator becomes a formidable ground to anchor observation, base habitation, and control the place of water.
Today, this surface, taken for granted as land, is in trouble from rising seas, floods, droughts, fires, storm events, species extinction, wars, poverty. These problems tend to be attributed to human action, global capital, climate change, and such. We, however, see them as the failure of a design project to implement a surface and control water. We therefore propose an alternative—a critical zone of wetness. What does it take, we ask, to design in a wetness that reaches from clouds to aquifers rather than on a geographic surface?”

Dilip Da Cunha + Anuradha Mathur are the authors of Mississippi Floods: Designing a Shifting Landscape (2001), Deccan Traverses: the Making of Bangalore’s Terrain (2006) and Soak: Mumbai in an Estuary (2009), and co-editors of Design in the Terrain of Water (2014). Da Cunha’s new book The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’s Eye and Ganga’s Descent was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2019. Mathur and da Cunha are currently working on a book and exhibition titled Ocean of Rain.

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