Somatheque of the Port of Ventanas: Cartography, Maps and Counter-Representations

José Llano Loyola and Paulina E. Varas

At first sight, the port of Ventanas, located 60 kilometres north of Valparaíso, and the surrounding town seem to be places affected by catastrophe. If this impression is indeed factually the case, is important to understand the different levels of complexity of this devastating condition, considering that communication and information devices also operate at the core of human subjectivity, molding it for its exploitation and encountering, in this context, somatic rebellion movements.

Disciplines and wisdoms define the body differently. Many images appear in this process. The formation of extractive processes and the impact of logistics have bodily and subjective expressions. In the case of Ventanas, these include forms of pollution that remain in the organs and infect them to death, toxic clouds caused by the refinery that move through the air and get into children’s lungs, and ships sailing from the port and crossing oceans to keep capital in movement. All of these expressions establish more than human connections.

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More from Less

Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter

Known in Chile as los hombres verdes, the green men of Ventanas are former copper smelter workers whose skin is scarred with green lesions produced by chemical reactions. Located some sixty kilometres north of the port of Valparaíso, Ventanas has been declared una zona de sacrificio due to pollution from heavy industry. The area’s general toxicity mirrors the purity of its copper exports, which travel primarily to China. Copper is undoubtedly a form of elemental media, essential to today’s digital capitalism and logistical technologies. Yet the reputed purity of the copper refined at Ventanas cannot fix the price of this commodity, which rather follows the fluctuations of trading on metal exchange markets. In the face of this financial uncertainty, data and logistics have emerged as the last hope to squeeze more from less in the Chilean copper industry, recasting the heroic role of the miner in a country ‘married’ to this metal. Wracked by strikes in the mining and the port sectors, Chile has become a laboratory for a new cycle of struggles, much as it was for twenty years a testbed of neoliberalism. Under these conditions, the Logistical Worlds research shifted to Latin America.

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Learning from the Atacama

Orit Halpern

‘Learning from landscapes is a way of being revolutionary for an architect’.

Robert Venturi, Dennis Brown and Scott Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas, 1972.

How should we rethink the ethical, political, and social impacts of infrastructure? What might one ‘learn’ from landscapes? Taking my lead from the famous architectural and design treatise, Learning from Las Vegas, I want to begin studying these sites as landmarks in a landscape that very well may herald our future. This is a territory that bridges data and matter; both the producer of some of the largest non-proprietary data sets on earth and the provider of many of the very materials that create the information age. In this essay I will argue that these sites collectively form the landscape of a planetary testbed, a petri dish cultivating potential futures of life, politics and technology on both Earth and beyond.

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‘Buy cheap, sell dear’

Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter

Moving through the Burrabazar district along Kolkata’s Strand the immediate buzz of hustling and trade obscures the crumbling warehouses that line the thoroughfare. According to a popular saying, ‘Everything is available in Burrabazar’. This ethos of ready supply, at least for those who are prepared to haggle (and almost everyone is), comes with an infrastructural and informational layer. ‘Everyone wants to buy cheap and sell dear’, writes Clifford Geertz in a classic article on the bazaar economy from the 1970s. ‘In the bazaar information is poor, scarce, maldistributed, inefficiently communicated, and intensely valued’. What are the material conduits that support this game of information procurement and coveting and what are the historical and political conditions that have allowed it to flourish?

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