hepler Annotations

In response to:

What dimensions are captured in this image (spatial, temporal, discursive, etc.) and at what scale of analysis (nano, micro, mezzo, macro)?

Friday, December 14, 2018 - 10:31am

The dimension captured in this image is most obviously spatial: "the juxtaposition of the space reserved for community use and well being amidst environmental hazards and everday exposures," as Jerome Crowder puts it. The scale is micro (Hartman Park) to mezzo (Hartman Park as synecdoche for similar juxtapositions throughout the Houston/Galveston region).

But this spatial juxtaposition is also a juxtaposition of temporal registers: petrochemical production and residential recreation, the refinery and the park.

I am guessing the toxic tour itself, through the itinerary it traces from site to site, must constitute (implicitly or explicitly) a spatialized argument about chronological progression, necessity/contingency, and/or other aspects of temporality and causality within the history of toxicity in Houston and Galveston. I think that sequence of images capturing itineraries of toxic tours could be a fantastic resource for analyzing the temporal arguments and affordances within such sequences of "juxtapositions of space".

I would be really interested to see how such an visual investigation of the urban (/suburban/exurban) geography and temporality of toxic exposures sits alongside arguments of this sort grounded in zoning and emissions data, e.g. Frickel and Elliott, Sites Unseen (2018). For example, I bet that the toxic tour presents a complementary perspective on the localized long-term phenomena that Frickel and Elliott refer to as "industrial churn" and "residential churn," in their ecologically-inspired account of how the "succession of cities" reveals and obscures the residues of past toxic activities.

Reading this photograph alongside Frickel and Elliott, we can ask whether the unseen hazards of toxic residues in the soil underneath the park, legacies of forgotten industrial activity of the past, might merit every bit as much concern as the visible hazard posed by the petrochemical facility across the fence.

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