Sensing Landscape as a Media Object

Main Article Content

Saadia Mirza


Array-based remote sensing has been influencing knowledge practices across many fields, from geology, military planning, and archaeology to landscape architecture and artistic research. These uses have been made possible by declassified image-data and the proliferation of sensing technologies, enabling myriad interpretations of a single landscape. Following a series of remotely-sensed landscape visualizations created via training and conversation with archaeologists, in this article I reflect on using satellite remote sensing for analyzing the impact of militarization on archaeological landscapes in Afghanistan. The article surveys techniques of image generation using exploratory practices that reveal how obscurity is overcome in the process of image interpretation and visualization. In doing so, it tackles the liminality of digital, image-like worlds where mediated perceptions of landscapes aid the creation of evidence for sites that are physically inaccessible to fieldwork. The entanglement of aesthetics and objective knowledge marks this foray into a landscape of data that is composed of digital, virtual, and computable surfaces with imaginations of territory, topography, and terrain that have a materiality of their own, despite being intangible.

Article Details

How to Cite
Mirza, S. (2020). Sensing Landscape as a Media Object. Diseña, (16), 148-173.
Original articles
Author Biography

Saadia Mirza, The University of Chicago

B. in Architecture, National College of Arts. Master of Design Studies, Harvard University. PhD Candidate, The University of Chicago. Visiting researcher, Sciences Po. Her research is situated at the intersection of Landscape Studies and the History of Science, Media, and Technology. Her research methods mix archival and ethnographic research with the production of immersive and spatial media installations. She treats sounds and images as the objects as well as tools of her research, scratching their surface to excavate a history of how expert knowledge is formed in a world of incomplete information. Her academic research and artworks have been supported through fellowships at Sciences Po, ETH Zürich, and the University of Chicago Center in Paris, as well as through artist residencies at the Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart) and Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris).