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Geoff Manaugh (BLDGBLOG) reviews An Incomplete Atlas, 23 June 2017.

Warnings Along the Inundation Line
BLDGBLOG on An Incomplete Atlas

An Incomplete Atlas ”sets up an interesting formal precedent for other documentary undertakings such as this.”
––Geoff Manaugh

An excerpt from Geoff Manaugh’s review, ”Warnings Along the Inundation Line”:

“As part of her recent thesis at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design—a school of the University of Toronto—landscape architect Elise Hunchuck spent the summer of 2015 traveling around Japan’s Sanriku coast, documenting every available tsunami stone in photographs, maps, and satellite views, and accumulating seismic and geological data about each stone’s local circumstances.

The end result was a book called An Incomplete Atlas of Stones. It was inspired, she writes, by “a combined interest in warning systems and cartography.”

The entire book is 490* pages in length, and the selections I’ve chosen here barely scratch the surface. The material Hunchuck has gathered would not only be served well by a gallery installation; the project also sets up an interesting formal precedent for other documentary undertakings such as this.

Given my own background, meanwhile—I am a writer, not an architect—I would love to see more of a reporting angle in future versions of this sort of thing, e.g. interviews with local residents, or even with disaster-response workers, connected to these landscapes through personal circumstance.

The narratives of what these stones are and what they mean would be well-illustrated by more than just data, in other words, including verbal expressions of how and why these warnings were heeded (or, for that matter, fatally overlooked).

In any case, the title of Hunchuck’s book—it is an incomplete atlas—also reveals that Hunchuck is still investigating what the stones might mean and how, as a landscape architect, she might respond to them. Her goal, she writes, “is not to offer an explicit response—yet. This incomplete atlas shares the stories of seventy five places, each without a definitive beginning or end.”

The review and Geoff’s blog can be read here.

*Edited to correct earlier number. In his review, Geoff Manaugh writes “nearly 250 pages in length” but this refers to double page spreads, and so has been edited here to the actual page count of 490.