Gaïa-graphy, earth-visual investigations, is a transdisciplinary visual research at the cross of architecture and environmental studies, on experimentations with the projection (cosmogram and concrete earth-data modelling tool)

Non-humans and natural forms should be viewed as part of another topology, the gaïa-graphy. Gaïa-graphy, earth-visual investigations is a research focuses on the elaboration of a new cosmogram (cosmological paradigm), and even more on the construction of an earth-data modelling tool dedicated to the study, understanding and political action in the critical zone. Indeed this earth-visual investigation is based on critical zone scientific work : the study of the various layers from the top of the canopies to the undisturbed rocks beneath affected by life, far from equilibrium, forming a sort of skin, varnish, pellicle at the surface of the globe. The « gaia-geography » model enables humans to localise themselves among entities and to render visible their overlaps. Thus the procedure is more akin to a navigation than to a map. By shifting from geo to gaïa it underlines that what is in question is first of all a set of processes, possesses some sort of agency, and is recalcitrant to usual forms of “scopic regimes”.

The goal of this research is to render different users and actors sensitive to the actions they might have on a given landscape.

While the word globe or earth designates the planet as a whole, and most of the time as an object of celestial mechanic viewed from the outside, the « critical zone » is closer to the concept of Gaïa or Earth system science. The word “zone” emphasizes its uncertain status, different from other older concepts such as planet, nature, biosphere, etc. The word “critical” underlines first the physical property of being far from equilibrium but second its fragility. A fragility which is of course felt much more acutely because of human action in the Earth system, action summarized by the word “Anthropocene”. Our Earth visualisations has relied on the reutilization of older cartographic, geological and cybernetic imageries that have been proposed for other goals, according to the planet-viewed-from-out-of-space scheme. Such a lack of common visual imagery is a great impediment for the understanding of human roles and interaction at the time of the Anthropocene. One could argue that a major source either of scepticism or indifference to the new climatic regime comes from the absence of a shared representation of what it is to live in those CZs. Because of the absence of such a representation, it is barely possible to make the actions of human agents felt.

This limit hampers the scientists themselves first, unable to self-identify under a common understanding of what make up a territory. And of course actors of territorial planning (elected representatives, officials, activists, citizens, landscape architects, public and private investors) who shape territories. In this research the model/prototype will try to represent the landscape of the critical zone, from »Inside » this new landscape, under the earth skin, among diverse phenomenas and living being which animated it. The research will show the links between architectural practices and scientists’ discoveries : territorials’ vision with common aims. Thus, territories have no longer to be considered as a support to be built, but as truly active, living soils, reacting to our actions on and in it.


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