SAADIA MIRZA

Media Arts//Architecture//Social Science

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SENSING LANDSCAPE: TOPOLOGIES II

2018 (Virtual reality animation)

What does the underside of a map look like? What lies behind it? This VR experience is a topological experiment that tests the limits of a radar-sensed dataset of a landscape through a series of interference patterns and fractal geometries. By borrowing techniques from scientific data analysis in the geophysical sciences, the animation expresses a unique aesthetic challenge by inviting the viewer to reconsider the relationship between map and image. Advised by artist Marc Downie and created in the environment Field by OpenEndedGroup


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t and Middle Eastern Landscapes, University of ChicagoDeveloped in consultation with Center for Ancient and Middle Eastern Landscapes, 




SENSING LANDSCAPE: TOPOLOGIES I

2018 (multi-channel video)

From probability mapping to terrain analysis, this video installation explores the politics of cloud infrastructures, pixel resolutions, point-cloud data, and the images produced by remote sensing. It reveals a fraught political space where the aesthetics of the term ‘landscape’ change from sensory experience to a computable surface through the peculiar media technologies of remote-sensing. It reveals the strange entanglement between aesthetics and objectivity. It features a sound collaboration with Antoni Rayzhekov.




MILITARIZED KANDAHAR

2017 (animated digital maps)
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Aerial and satellite imagery makes much of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan traceable, including the complicated relationship between military infrastructure and archaeological cultural heritage.  What might be the continuing historical importance of these sites? Statistical and other kinds of computational mapping reveals a different story about the war through a story of contested infrastuctures: roads, culverts, agriculture and archaeological sites. Developed in consultation with Center for Ancient and Middle Eastern Landscapes, University of Chicago.


PLANT
2016 (HD video)

Co-collaborator: Elaine Barton

This film is a foray into the dense, damp world of an aquaponics farming system  in the south of Chicago. Set in the basement of a former slaughterhouse and meatpacking facility, the film conveys the surreal and unexpected beauty of a ‘natural’ world that grows out of a fully fabricated system—from its artificial lighting to its industrial materials that replace the traditional concepts of sun, soil, land, and earth. Textures of the visually strange are brought into focus as the film grows alongside the fruits of the agriculture farm. The sounds of the environment highlight the difference between the constructed environment and its organic products. In doing so, the film also illuminates how agriculture and the concept of ‘cultivation’ always entails some form of ‘craft’ and ‘design’.



SOUTHSIDE IMAGINARIES
2016 (HD Video)



The South Side of Chicago has been subject to varying notions of what “community” means in its history, starting from the sociological mapping exercises by the Chicago School of Sociology in the late 1920s to current-day gentrification West of Garfield Park.  A series of map-making interviews with locals living and working next to the Arts Block led to this short ethnographic video. Each participant drew a map of the Arts Block and the surrounding neighbourhood, showing what kinds of interventions they would like to propose in the space: how does community both empower and divide people? To what extent did the 1930s maps ultimately make a socioeconomic reality out of what started of as an invisible and possibly fictional boundary between neighbourhoods based on race?



SEA AS LAND
2013 (HD video installation and lightbox maps)

Collaborators: Ryan Bouma, Rituparna Simlai

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, five littoral countries posture to control Caspian Sea oil extraction rights. The Caspian is considered a 'special inland sea', a strategic maritime designation enabling ownership of the sea floor and the associated resources below. Overlapping claims between, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran contribute to an accelerated militarization of the sea. Recent joint military drills between Iran and Russia, simulating defense of oil fields, caught the attention of neighboring countries, the international oil companies who own extraction rights and the governments that back them. More a disputed land than a body of water, the weaponized Caspian represents a territory of increasing convergence between regional politics, intercontinental infrastructure and global energy.