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Idyllic Brutality (film)

Princeton University: Liam Young

Fall 2014

 

How is agency made visible? How is it manifested in the landscape? As the means of recording and seeing the landscape have evolved, so have the tools of agency within those landscapes. The history of camouflage is in a way a catalogue of strategies and tactics of human agency within the landscape. There is a distinct disparity between that which is seen and that which is camouflage as technology has evolved from methods of optical obfuscation to increasingly technical and often invisible forms of technology.

 

In Guatemala, the agency of the communities has been systematically eroded by the technologies of the military. Individual agency is removed so that the digital information isn’t contaminated by people. Technology can capture large quantities of information about the land. Through NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) we can understand the value of a portion of land from the internet and quantify value. LiDAR can measure to millimeter precise detail the existing conditions of any site. But the technology is not in the hands of the people who own the land in Guatemala. Memory is their means of valuation. Their ancestral land is quantified by other people through the means of technology.

 

The violence against the people has shifted to a violence against the landscape. While they murders have ceased, the government continues to violate the rights of the indigenous people and their right to the land that they own. The sites of genocide and the locations of exploited landscape are inextricably linked. Agency of the landscape and collective memory is unquantifiable, the landscape can be valued superficially (i.e. LiDAR) but collective memory lends an interpretation of a landscape which cannot be quantified through a technology, therefore is camouflaged from any valuation process.

How can agency be visualized within technology?