STS Colloquium: Lisa Cartwright Mar 7

Lisa Cartwright of the University of California San Diego Department of Communication and Science Studies delivers an STS colloquium talk titled “Infrastructures of Power: New Topographies of Wind in Kansas” on Thursday, March 7, 5:00-6:30pm at the Green College Coach House.

This talk draws on a multi-year sensory ethnography by Lisa Cartwright and Steven Rubin (Pennsylvania State University, School of Visual Arts), who since 2009 have been documenting the everyday work experience and interaction between humans and technology in farming and ranching life on the land in Kansas communities where wind, long regarded as a potential threat to life, land, and property, has taken on a new dimension as a source of power to be “harvested” like a crop through a new energy infrastructure built on farmland that continues to be worked in conventional agricultural ways. The double-cropping of wind and grain in Kansas is analyzed as a practice in which boundaries and intersections are negotiated not only between the energy industry and agriculture, but also between wind-rich and wind-poor towns, across farms, and among farmhands and wind technicians, who must learn how to share the field, and how to adapt to new modes of facilitating and negotiating local and distributed power. Photography and the matter of documenting this negotiation of land crops, wind crops, and their respective technologies are of particular concern in this paper, with attention to the historical place of landscape photography as a technology of power, the matter of wind as a uniquely invisible force, and the photographic legacy of the New Topographics in contemporary land use interpretation projects such as this one.