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Opening pages of an essay written for The Funambulist (Issue 18: Cartography and Power, 2018) at the invitation of editor-in-chief Léopold Lambert.[2] 

An Incomplete Atlas of Stones:
A Cartography of the Tsunami Stones on the Japanese Shoreline
in The Funambulist

What happens to us 
Is irrelevant to the world’s geology
But what happens to the world’s geology 
Is not irrelevant to us.
We must reconcile ourselves to the stones, 
Not the stones to us.
— Hugh MacDiarmid [1]

An excerpt from An Incomplete Atlas of Stones:

An Incomplete Atlas is an attempt to illustrate the dynamics of a coastline as a place through the development and ar- ticulation of a nuanced, landscape-based atlas that makes technical information available to a wide range of readers. It uses basic tools — texts and drawings that borrow from 
representational conventions familiar to many — and deploys a consistent strategy and method at the site of each stone, proposing a type of visual and verbal language that is simultaneously simple and sophisticated, that is of a place and yet articulates a way of reading landscapes to help people recognize ambiguous, complex, and varied landscapes.

Establishing a shared legibility of landscapes is not only an op- portunity to extend the agency of design for landscape architects and the discipline, but perhaps, most importantly, it offers the op- portunity to extend knowledge and agency to citizens. It is only then, when everyone has access to and is equipped with the information neces- sary to engage in conversations about immediate choices and long-term possibilities that landscape’s agency is revealed. Landscapes’ neutrality lost and no longer detached or abstracted, it becomes clear that they are complex, contested, and subject to the pressures of life — both slow and fast. These pressures, from sea level rise to climate change to tsunamis, are critical in establishing the understanding that the crisis facing coastal landscapes is an ongoing one, far from being limited to the aftermath of emergency.

1. Photographs of stones taken by Elise Hunchuck during fieldwork generously supported by the Peter Prangnell Travelling Grant from the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.

To read the entire essay, please consider subscribing to and supporting The Funambulist, a digital and printed magazine examining the politics of space and bodies. Created and edited by Léopold Lambert and in part supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in Fine Arts. To read, order, or subscribe, please visit The Funambulist site directly.

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Cover and back matter, The Funambulist, Issue 18: Cartography & Power, July-August 2018.