The myth and materiality of the sea - its darkness, depth, buoyancy - have historically rendered it extra-geographic, placing it outside the realm of representation. Now, in an era of ecologically and geopolitically induced migration and displacement, the oceanic imaginary takes on new urgency and valence, interrelating questions of temporality and citizenship with the making of global infrastructure. Yet even as oceans gain visibility and currency through their commercialization, legislation, and politicization, their materiality and spatiality continue to be regarded as incidental phenomena - blank spaces against which named, bounded, and terrestrial bodies emerge.
Atlas of the Sea is both a cartographic and political enquiry which visualizes a new oceanic spatial order c.2017, including the creation of a new set of geopolitical territories and the delineation of their borders along the ocean floor. This on-going project draws from the environmental humanities and foregrounds architectural representation as the mode and site for investigation, inviting a re-reading of oceanic space not merely as an extra-geographic border zone beyond representation, but as grounds for global migration, public encounter, and cultural exchange.
This website functions merely as a repository for the thoughts, ideas, iterative visualizations, and student work produced for the Atlas of the Sea.
Elisa Kim leads the architecture program at Smith College, where she is currently an Assistant Professor of Architecture + Urbanism. Previously, she taught architecture studios at Washington University in St. Louis and practiced in the offices of Plasma Studio (London), Axi;Ome (St. Louis) and Schulze+Grassov (Copenhagen and St. Louis).