Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Today's Newsdesk: Gotland

[the uninhabited Akpatok Island in northern Quebec with sheer cliffs that rise 500 feet out of the Ungava Bay?  Or a post storm oil slick on the Gowanus Canal?]

[Akpatok Island]

We are pretty sure that Earth Day occurred at some point in the last few weeks, and rather than breaking from our cocoons and cautiously spreading our pollinated wings like a delicate butterfly warming and flitting about in the sunshine, we instead surfed the USGS EROS server.  What we found was just as good- stunningly beautiful satellite images of the Earth, as opposed to the regular ones found on google earth which we have grown desensitized to.

[the painted desert in the American southwest beautifully transitions to forest]

[the delta of the Yukon National wildlife refuge]

It seems unnecessary to point out the similarities in these forms and patterns and those of microbial landscapes or magnified geologies; mountains ranges and river deltas and mycorrhiza associations are all awesome things.  For a titillating vertigo check out the image of the Icelandic fjord and then read Tim Morton’s words on the “uncanny anteriority of the massive object”, (an excellent blog despite his nauseatingly intimate style that is like inviting you into the digital bathroom for scintillating conversation while he’s voiding his bowels). 

[an icelandic fjord]

[also an icelandic fjord, and its inertia-inducing causal properties]

We are particularly fond of the Earth Art 3 series because that is where Gotland makes an appearance.  According to the Gutasagan (Gotland Tale) the island was a magical place that rose out of the Baltic Sea every morning with the mists, before subsiding again every evening.  This would explain the Silurian reefs that are found all along the coastline, as well as the fact that the earliest known inhabitation occurred only 7,000-8,000 years ago (compare this with the Monte Verde site way down in southern Chile, which dates back at least 13,000 years).  Despite the late start it quickly picked up steam and before the founding of the Hanseatic League the city of Visby was the main center of Baltic commerce, and continued to have a prominent role in the proto-capitalist, proto-Westphalian Hanseatic League.

[Gotland in the Baltic Sea]

[the hanseatic league, gotland was a link to sweden and novgorod]

[a silurian reef in Gotland, similar to those that can be found buried beneath Chicago]

We still like to think of it as a magical land full of fjords and beasts, one that rises out of the mists every morning.  The reality is something a little less interesting, though it does bear a striking resemblance to Koolhaasian landscape infrastructurism.  In this birthplace of capitalism the treasures of Gotland, it seems, have been revisioned as a playpen for German and Swedish businessmen who need to do some eco-friendly race track driving, and we’re left a little cold.  Hard to argue with the slogan though:  Safety Ecology Racing.
[the Gotland Ring racecourse and eco-resort]

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