Water as Cake
The following is an excerpt from a publication in Burnaway Magazine that explores the aquifer which underlines much of the south. The full essay and graphics can be found at this link.
Translating complex systems such as aquifers into policy guidelines requires editing out nuances and drawing averages. This loss of intricacy occurs as one converts system to science and science to policy, which is then further warped by the intersections of history and culture. Compared to the complexity of reality, the language and laws we use to describe water appear alternately as humorous, poetic, or absurd. In Mississippi v. Tennessee, hydrological and geological experts testified for both sides, bringing their detailed knowledge of aquifers to bear upon the case. As court proceedings are recorded in text, the visuals that were presented to support the oral arguments were described in detail by these experts, adding another layer of distortion as image is rendered into word. These collages are my own interpretations of the phantom visuals and terms presented by the experts and lawyers on both sides of the case. The work is not an attempt to articulate anything factual, or a winning argument, but rather draw out the ambiguities of the case using the language of law and mapping to explore the paradoxes and limits inherent to borders and ownership, especially when it comes to water.