The prairie habitat is one of the most endangered in Canada and only a small fraction of the original tallgrass prairie remains, post-colonization. Despite years of over-cultivation, the grasses continue to hold the land together with their vast root systems.
Looking to prairie grass ecosystems, as well as the technologies that map and reflect the diminishing biome, connecting thru grasses considers how we might both map and define prairie boundaries anew. Considering how satellites passing overhead reflect an image of the earth (and thus of ourselves) back to us, and how these images shape or mis-shape our understanding of the land and our relationship to it, the work looks closer at TERRA, a research satellite that has circled the earth since 1999 constructing images for use in the monitoring of environmental and climate data.
Ecologically, prairie landscapes are incredibly diverse; thousands of species coexist without distinct boundaries between communities. These plants with strong roots act as a metaphor for building community across the prairie region, and in so doing, open up other possibilities for transcending borders, distance and relation.
Christina Battle on Terra’s data collection:
TERRA can see a lot. But it doesn’t account for the discrepancy as to who breathes what air. It records the impacts of climate change on a global level, but doesn’t monitor the unequal impacts imposed on communities when governments refuse to act against it.
The resolution of images captured by TERRA range between 15 and 90 metres (or, 49 and 295 ft). That means: one pixel of image represents a square of about 15m x 15m (up to 90m x 90m) on the earth.
Put another way, the satellite can only differentiate between things on the ground that are at least 15m apart (or, if less resolution, 90m apart). That’s not a lot of detail.