An Incomplete Atlas of Stones
“Je bâtis à roches mon langage.”
“I build my language with rocks.”
–Édouard Glissant, L’Intention poétique
What does it mean to mark a stone?
In the wake of the 869 Jogan tsunami along the Pacific coast of Japan, communities began to
erect stone tablets called tsunami stones. These stones performed a dual function; they were
warnings – markers of the edges of inundation, they indicate where to build and where to flee
when oceans rise; and, they are memorials, erected as part of a ritual that memorializes
geologic events and those lost.
In 1743, on the coast of Sweden along the Bottenhavet (Bothnian Sea), Anders Celsius marked
changing elevations of the water in an attempt to measure, and thereby understand, the
apparent sea-level decrease of the Bothnian. The marks on these rocks were later visited by
Charles Lyell in 1834, and he, in turn, made new marks on the same rocks. Finding the marks of
Celsius to be far above the mean water level, Lyell and his new measurements would be part of
the developing Scandinavian paradox, and later still, the geological concept of eustasy.
What, we might ask, is the epistemological status of these markers? What kind of knowledge do
they produce? Elise Hunchuck will talk about landscape architecture – and its attendant
research and design practices – as deeply political. And, through an exploration between stones
on two coastlines – in Japan and Sweden – will develop a framework that insists on illuminating
the complexity of the political ecologies of landscapes while drawing attention to newly forming
questions as landscape becomes no longer framed as a technology of territories of ownership
but of risk .
Elise Hunchuck is a researcher, designer, and editor based in Berlin. She is a co-editor of
Scapegoat: SCAPEGOAT: Architecture | Landscape | Political Economy. A University Olmsted
Scholar, Elise was recently a finalist for the 2017 Maeder-York Landscape Fellowship at the
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Cambridge, US) and a research fellow with the Landscape
Architecture Foundation (Washington DC, US). She has taught at the Daniels Faculty of
Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto (Toronto, CA) and is currently
working on research, design, and editorial projects in Canada, Germany, and the US. Her work
has been exhibited in Berlin, Toronto, and Venice.