Test, Bury, Erode: Infrastructural Ghosts


Sara Jacobs

Following the materiality of extractive landscapes suggests how remote and often intentionally unseen places continue to shape and be shaped through relational infrastructures of militarization, urban expansion, and Indigenous land dispossession. The project explores how the reuse and remediation of waste landscapes become legitimized through often unexamined scientific narratives of cure, and the ways these narratives have allowed the redesign of ruinous landscapes to engage – often unwittingly, if not inexcusably – in the remaking of positivist ideas of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural.’ The project traces the ecological and social histories of active and former military waste sites in western Utah and Washington State through stories of material movement. The research works to unearth these sites from their technological pasts to show how geomorphological discourses and rationalized property maps engender place erasure and displacement through racialized narratives of cure and disposal. The research was first conducted as an artist-in-residence at the Center for Land Use Interpretation and uses environmental history and visual representation to explore landscape through collage, narrative nonfiction, and inhabitation.