Artificial Landscapes / Faux Snow

Artificial Landscapes / Faux Snow

Take a moment to think back a few months to February: while most of the U.S. was enveloped in more snow than it knew what to do with, the Russian resort town of Sochi was experiencing balmy temperatures in the 60 degree range—great for vacation, problematic for hosting the winter Olympics. Luckily, Russia had a back-up plan: in addition to hoarding snow for more than a year before the games actually started, over 400 state-of-the-art snowmaking machines were imported to turn nearly 230 million gallons of water into enough snow to cover roughly 500 football fields with two feet of powder.

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Nataliya Vasilyeva/AP

Although artificial snowmaking has been around since the 1970s, the technology has become so advanced that Sochi’s Finnish snowmaking guru was quoted saying, “I can make snow in saunas.” The Sochi Olympics proved that “hacking” the weather is no longer a thing of the future. The process could be likened to 3d printing, with snow as a medium; and despite the highly intricate machinery and science involved, the whole operation can be controlled by smartphone. The evolution of this technique brings to light a slew of new possibilities of man’s ability for spatial manipulation in the digital era, as such a highly choreographed thermal event has the ability to artificially shape a landscape at a massive scale.

All this talk of “faux snow” got us thinking about other types of artificial landscapes. Humans have been manipulating their environment since the dawn of time, but have continued to find increasingly devastating methods since the industrial era. Mining, factory production, and dams have forever changed the topography of our planet. Edward Burtynsky’s documentary Manufactured Landscapes chronicles such landscapes in an incredibly beautiful manner, raising questions about the ethics and aesthetics of man’s impact on his environment. Check it out:

It’s sure to get you thinking about your impact on this world. Sources:

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