2014 (North Carolina)
Buildings must always be built on those parts of the land which are in the worst condition, not the best.
-Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language
The terraforming of another planetary body is possibly the greatest art project imaginable by our species. The sheer volume of language, data, and imagery that would be necessary to guide a project of this scale is staggering, not to mention the level of material manipulation. To fashion another Earth environment and what that would engender would be the ultimate projection of design ideas onto raw space. The Earth-shaping of Mars, Venus, and Europa is a subject that has been given serious consideration by organizations like NASA and well-known thinkers such as Carl Sagan. Kim Stanley Robinson’s popular Mars Trilogy ponders in great depth the political, social, and environmental implications of this act.
Painters of the Hudson River School were scientists of the landscape. Transcendentally, they ventured forth into natural areas, collecting specimens (in the form of notes and sketches) which they brought back to their studios in order to construct landscapes of amazing splendor and detail. Their works reflected a highly designed image of a young nation in all of its natural beauty and promise. The notion of terraforming dates back to the early 20th Century, but I wonder how much of this first American school of painting would influence any future effort to impose an earth-like environment upon an alien planet. Would there be picturesque requirements for mountains and manors in the next new world?
The Terraforming Box offers the instructions and materials necessary to begin the contemplative process of creating an Earth-like environment on an extraterrestrial body.