© 2015 Jeffrey Mansfield

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Archives of Patagonia: Vicissitudes of Space and Time in an Altered Landscape 

 

This project speculates on a regional-scale archive linking infrastructure and nature complementarily along the 180-km high-tension high-voltage transmission line that would be constructed as part of the controversial HidroAysen project, which proposes the construction of five mega-dams scattered throughout the Chilean Patagonia with a combined hydroelectric output of 2750 megawatts.  Not surprisingly, while the project would deliver a significant amount of renewable energy for Chile, it also comes under heavy indictment from conservation groups that seek to preserve one of nature’s most sublime landscapes. 

 

Despite a tradition that perceives the region as the last vestige of pristine nature on Earth, Patagonia has been an altered landscape since the first settlers descended upon the region.  The slash-and-burn practices of colonial rancheros degraded soil quality beyond regeneration, opening up large, romantic vistas of the landscape. More recently, in 1976, Carretera Austral, Chile’s Route 7, framed Patagonia as a picturesque image to be experienced from the highway—an experience made even more unnatural through a vehicle.

 

This project utilizes the construction schematics of the transmission line to build a series of archives nested within transmission towers that utilize fixed viewfinders to curate a constellation of ‘monuments.’  These monuments—found objects in the landscape that evidence space or the passage of time—foster an experience of the landscape that is not determined by experiencing space through the simultaneous passing of time. Instead, some monuments, such as the glacier, compress billions of years of geologic process.  Others, such as the unused highway berm, seem to prolong the passage of time. Displaying these monuments through fixed viewfinders, the archival towers frame an intensely perceptual experience of space and time that conflates nature with infrastructure and conservation with energy.

 

Project nominated for GSD Platform 6 and presented at PUC School of Architecture

Critics: Anita Berritizbita + Kelly Doran, with Tomas Folch