On Navigating Horizonless Worlds

Authors: Nishat Awan*,
Topics: Geographic Theory, Human-Environment Geography, Indigenous Peoples
Keywords: territories, volumetric, mapping, migration
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 6:25 AM / 7:40 AM
Room: Virtual 55
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Contemporary visual regimes of modelling and mapping are producing representations of worlds that are all encompassing. From NASA’s Blue Marble, which is a composite image of our planet to computational models produced through data aggregation and the virtual realms of computer games, there is a certain sense that we inhabit a world of totalities where the horizon beyond which things might remain uncertain or incalculable seems to have disappeared (Lury and Day 2019; Chun 2015). In many ways the condition of undocumented migration produces a similar effect where migration policies and border securitisation keep people moving, forcing them to inhabit a persistent present (Navaro-Yashin 2016). Through discussing the project, Topological Atlas (www.topologicalatlas.net), the article will explore forms of volumetric visualisation that privilege the relational and are able to resist the evidentiary urge in contemporary social research and artistic practice in order to produce patchy models for orientation in what seem to be totalising worlds.

For the last year we have been working on the Pakistan-Iran border to understand the nature of the territorial formations being produced and reproduced through the movement of people and goods, seasonal and climatic changes and the knotted entanglements of these flows and exchanges,using methods of visual and spatial analysis to produce a counter-geography of borders and an account of undocumented migration that resists the use of violence as sole analytic and looks instead for forms of life that emerge within and in relation to the hostile environments of border control (McKittrick 2011).

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