Earth, water, air

Currently, the relationship between humans and matter is one of control and operationalisation. This is reflected in interventions that aim to fixate river dynamics, optimise soil for agriculture by means of fertilisers, and harvest energy by placing hydro-electric dams along rivers. The human occupation of land, sea and air is increasing to enable the extraction of matter on a monumental scale. On land, processes of deforestation have a direct effect on both water and air systems, causing the reduction of water discharge upstream and CO2 uptake. At sea, increasing air temperatures cause sea ice to regress, allowing the expansion of oil extraction. Traces of the present and historic occupation can be found in the remnants of anthropogenic material, such as particulate matter concentrations in the air or pesticides and debris accumulated in the sediments. In other areas that enforce less control, the natural dynamics of matter threaten human living, as is the case in some northern coastal areas, where rising air temperatures cause soil frost to decrease, leaving the land exposed to water fluctuation and severe erosion. In addition to natural and anthropogenic influences, the pressure of climate change works as a catalyst, magnifying existing issues to the point of extreme unbalance. It is the accumulation of these three pressures that now cause matter to change beyond our capacity of control, resulting in a new, hybrid matter, which has different properties, dynamics and states. For example, eutrophication (changing properties), artificial coastlines (change of dynamics) and regressing sea ice (change of state). With anthropogenic matter as a contextual basis, the urban project has to be considered both an appropriation and commodification, that carefully designs its impact on matter –  as an interplay between control and release.

> Link to the set of images (Monograph: Matter).