Drylands: Myth Building and Dam Busting
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Large scale systems planning helped establish the conditions of the drylands West as they exist today. In the context of rapid settlement and modernization of the west, this planning used infrastructure as its dominion over the physical realities of a landscape unsuitable for long-term human life. Despite the success of simulating an easy viability to populating the vast and arid west, the consequences of commoditizing water will have to be faced soon enough and to some extent, this is already underway.
We don’t believe that the creation of a typology, a technology, a process, or a tool can solve the systemic issues facing the drylands. Proposing a particular solution to a particular problem is too indicative of our current habit of relying on technologies to solve the problems of other technologies. Instead of proposing a physical, architectural, technical, or scientific assertion for the future of the drylands, we are interested in the anthropological, cultural, and spiritual consequences of a region defined by a long-lingering and seductive stupor of perversity in indulging in the ecstatic yet irrational occupation of a landscape at the end of the earth. The drylands are not suitable for human consumption.
Therefore, our approach is simple: to describe the myth, worldview, societal composition, and contradictions of a world after modernity—after the free availability of vital resources and bargain-basement delusion. We wanted to explore what sort of incredible idealism would be necessary to survive in the drylands a hundred years from now, when the infrastructure fails, climates have changed, cities have become abandoned, and a new tribalism reorganizing the pattern of human community across the landscape. Assuming that water scarcity is just one imminent geosocial conundrum, we are in this proposal positing future ideologies of time and place, the very crucial elements of the human experience that modernity sought to mute and neutralize. In the case of the drylands, we’ve seen the results. Simply put, Phoenix needs to end, and what happens when it and countless other cities, landscapes, and terrains around the drylands also come to an end is the premise of our study.
We have represented a future society of disparate members and ecstatic myth-making. This may be the only way to survive in the drylands. Making gods in the image not only of our own bodies but in the very creatures who occupy the sky, the people of the drylands are unfolding a future anthropology of the past, though uniquely and poignantly charged with its own revealing, stand, and creator of beauty in the human experience—abandoned, post-inudstrial city or not.