On the Making of Islands

Page 1

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This book represents a body of work produced at the

The following people also helped along the way, in parts

University of California, Berkeley, in first half of 2010. The

both large and small: Javier Arbona, Bryan Finoki, Dana

resources of the school, the faculty, and especially the stu-

Buntrock, Carl Rosenberg, Charles Salter, Randy Waldeck,

dents in attendance produced the environment which made

Chris Kubick, Enrique Ramirez, Geoff Manaugh, Nicola Twil-

this work possible. I was also fortunate to receive a John K.

ley, Jenny Greenburg, Dee Ruzicka, Yes Duffy, Christian

Branner Fellowship which funded the year of travel in 2009,

Cutul, Evan Pruitt, Chris Dubosz, Wilson Wang, Brian Fla-

enriching this project beyond my wildest expectations.

herty, Mary Lao, Camey Yeh, Austin Tsai, Galen Beyea, Rocky Hanish, Taylor Medlin, Nicolette Mastrangelo, and Benjamin

I am deeply indebted to Nicholas de Monchaux, a tal-


ented educator and avid walker. His guidance has pushed my work toward the essential conflicts, while ensuring it would all be smashing fun. Jake Kosek, geographer as busy as the bees he writes about, never failed to pose challenging questions and offer exuberant encouragement. Ron Rael, shaper of earth and not afraid to let a machine gun rip, relentlessly riddled my work with oblique strategies and demonstrated an uncanny ability to turn a dialogue on its head. Folks on Guam were of tremendous help: Daniel Guerrero, Bill Neville, Raymond Stiers, and Mike Thro with the US military; and from the civilian side, Victor Torres, Aaron Burger, Cari Eggleston, Richard Olmo, Joe Mauro, and the office of Senator Judith P. Guthertz.

And finally, none of this would have been possible without the support of my wife, Rachael Koffman.

CONTENTS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

forming the geologist walking the landscape preservationist scheduling the forensic engineer drawing the ornithologist sounding the sonic archivist modeling the archaeologist performing


The island referred to here is dualistic in nature. In a very overt sense, I am talking about a military base as an island. A bunker is another kind of tangible island. These spaces of widely ranging scales exhibit a similar experience as one crosses its threshold: a passing from something familiar In 2009 I traveled the islands of the world. The itiner-

to something else. The definition of “island” depends on this

ary included actual islands such as Guam, Okinawa, Puerto

familiar/other distinction. An island exists only in relation to

Rico, Cuba, the Azores, and Crete. I also traveled to places not

an “other” space surrounding it. Hence the dualistic nature

normally described as islands: military bases, bunkers and

of islands.

walled cities clearly lodged within a continent. The common denominator of these “islands”, both actual and metaphorical, follows a simple rule: an island is exclusionary. An island’s very nature is to agree internally as to its own identity so as to better exclude and differentiate itself from all other forces which may challenge that identity. The process of an island growing more distinct as an island or, alternatively, dissolving into its surrounding ocean, is fascinating to behold. It is a geologic process compressed into an observable timescale. The process of islands in the making and falling apart drove my travels during the year and continues to shape my perception of landscapes. At the end of my year of travels, I spent six months in a studio. I inhabited an island of time within the confines of the studio walls. There was an enormous (self-imposed) pressure to make something in there. I had also just returned from an amazing trip, the findings of which are still unfolding nearly three years later. In the months immediately following the travels, via the accretions of spatial memories from my travels exploring bunkers and walking miles along the fence-lines of air force bases, I came to build a new island.

But which is the familiar landscape: the island or the ocean around it? One appears more homogeneous and continuous and the other more unique and isolated. The island will be familiar to its natives, but to the sailors on the sea, who come from other islands, the ocean is the more familiar (albeit untrustworthy). The ocean is more familiar, that is, until the new island is made in the form of the traveler’s originary island. Islands are continuously being made, wittingly or not. This pamphlet is about the willful creation of an island. To construct an island: first, out of what material? The material of the island, the very nature of its edge, has everything to do with the ocean around it. The very stuff of separation is extracted from sameness. A considerable effort is required in this extraction. Some islands are produced by a volcanic eruption or a series of eruptions. Other islands are constructed by the gradual deposits over thousands of years by billions and billions of living entities. In the case of the island of Guam, both processes were, and still are, geologically at work. There are other ways to think about an island’s con-

struction: economic, political, social, ecological... I absorbed the island of Guam into my constructed island based partly on these physical facts about island-making.

colonised, or alternatively, reclaimed; it is a space of constant negotiation. And so being, the island is ripe for architecture. The island is ripe for telling stories about its making.

Guam is an island which exhibits very well the evidence of

Two stories are told here. One narrative tours a display

island-making. The space of the unfamiliar, the jungle island,

of evidence, of things made. This story looks at artefacts pro-

was colonized by a succession of Spaniards, Japanese, and the

duced in the making of the island. Exports from the architec-

US military. Through the clearing of jungle and imposition of

tural studio, they are drawings, schedules, lists, and models.

normative structures familiar to the colonizers, the unfamiliar

The exports are also less tangible things like walks, perfor-

became familiar.

mances, and sounds which have been captured by audio re-

Islands within islands are produced today on Guam by two large military bases along with their ancillary housing, storage, and communication facilities. Spaces sequestered by

cording, photography and narrative description. The story is made cohesive by examining physical output from the studio in order to produce a narrative about island-making.

fences permit landscapes of difference where sameness would

The island itself is seen through different media; it is

otherwise prevail. But the difference is never constant, ob-

mapped; it is simulated. However, all of these attempts to

servable at every scale of time and space. So it was logical, fol-

make the island known are failures at that task. Many of these

lowing my natural attraction toward islands, to make a project

attempts are deliberate failures, designed with inherent flaws

about how islands are continually made.

and fissures. Models are incomplete, drawings are obscured

This is the story of a particularly pronounced edge of an island, about how a fence edge of an air force base on Guam is amplified in scale to the size of a jet noise barrier. The thick-

by the thickness of the pen, and signals are infused with a degree of noise. It is not the island itself which is depicted but its pixelated, crumbling, accreted edge.

ened, amplified edge is a pile of military program. Following

So this narrative does not arrive at a conclusion but

the military’s departure from the island, the residual berm

instead walks in maddening circles, just as I did walking the

invites re-use by local citizens and suppressed native fauna.

fence edges of military bases on Okinawa. Each circle is in fact

Islands become more like islands as their edges grow

the loop of spiral, never quite approaching the origin.

more formidable. And yet, the allure of an inaccessible space,

A second narrative is a speculative look backwards,

combined with backlash from the detritus that inevitably is

an archaeology from the future of the jet noise barrier aban-

ejected from the island (laying waste to its surrounds) leads to

doned by the military. Six imaginary professionals, from the

the degradation of that very boundary. The island wants to be

Geologist who raises to the fore the processes at work beneath

the surface to the Sonic Archivist who collects energy dissipat-


ed through the air, examine Guam as a stratified landscape.

form; it contains a negligible amount of form which is but a

Each layer of the island constitutes a professional domain.

medium for the process of island-making.

Under this definition, architecture largely lacks

Each professional considers his respective profession’s normative perception of the island against the island’s creative/ destructive processes.

Together, the six professionals and

their separate narratives constitute a grand narrative by the invisible, lurking architect. The search is ongoing for the architect. I need not sift and re-sift the clues left in these pages, lest they crumble into dust. There would be no point, or else that is the only point— all things to dust. Regardless of how things end up, the search is perpetually ongoing, since to turn myself in would be to miss a critical opportunity, which is to define the theater of architectural operation. The object of architectural practice is to fill up that theater (and put on a good show); the object of architectural theory is to constantly open up new theaters. What’s the point, then? Why continually obfuscate material which is obscure to begin with? First, the fact that the island is Guam, that there is a real political struggle over how the island will be continually built up by the US military, is only one facet to the story, a story about islands everywhere. The work does not ask for solutions to Guam’s real issues. I would not presume architecture is a part of those solutions. Rather, I suggest the opposite: in the interstices produced by the effects of creating islands, architecture flourishes - in service to its users both formally and informally. Architecture is about making islands; more precisely, architecture mediates the exchange between “island” and

NS | Oakland, CA | December 2012

Hair will not be worn in an extreme or fad style or in such a way that exceeds length or bulk standards or violates safety requirements. Will not touch the ears and only closely cut or shaved hair on the back of the neck may touch the collar. Will not exceed 1 1/4 inches in bulk, regardless of length and not exceed 1/4 inch at the natural termination point. Will not contain or have any visible foreign items attached to it.


not from nowhere, not from nothing—

from somewhere, from something.

forming is the obsession to create.

forming is also the determination to dissolve

form, like man, is born weak and flexible.

form created is created in perpetuity.


form is also a tracing: A WALKING PATH, or less: a vibration.

form is neither island nor ocean; form encompasses the thickened edge between them.

THERE ARE ideal, static forms,

fit to a particular task.


form is energy; forming is a process.

militarized form is finite.

another kind of form is ever-changing; it eludes militarization even as it usurps the means and methods of finite form-making.

forming is participation in the infinte.


both sides used the rhetoric of ‘One Guam’ to profess a desire for continuity. Water infrastructure, being a shared resource, was a key point of contention with civilians arguing that the Geologically, Guam began as two islands. Two volcanoes erupted and collapsed at different times. We perceive it as a single island due to a second geologic process, the accretion of limestone coral which gradually fused the two volcanic formations into one. The two original islands are defined by

military did not do enough to protect the resource. What transpired deep below clearly shaped the politics of the surface. ‘One Guam’ was not and never will be possible because the island itself does not profess a desire to be continuous; it is in fact in a state of perpetual fracture.

the Pago-Adelup Fault, which bisects the island at the waist.

To understand the geologic processes we must also con-

The northern half of Guam is covered by a well lithified to fri-

sider the faults, which “transect the island throughout, com-

able white detrital limestone. The southern half is predomi-

plicating the structure and permeability of the rock units.”12

nantly volcanic rock at the surface and contains the only rivers

This persistent fracturing across the volcanic and limestone

and streams on the island.

layers emulates a continental process of erosion and slippage

The volcanic rock is more stable, forming what is known as the ‘volcanic basement’ of the island. Between this ‘basement’ and the laminae of porous coral limestone is a freshwater lens which 80% of islanders depend for their water. This lens spans the entire northern half of the island, ignoring boundaries of military and civilian space which carve up the surface. A geologist is normally unconcerned with the political activities of the surface which, in geologic time, are but effervescent sparks on a timeline of colossal proportion. However, in the case of Guam, the military’s activities at the surface produced a significant effect on the geologic condition below the surface.

into the sea, while the island continues to grow via deposits from the numerous coral reefs at the perimeter. Previous studies indicate that tectonic plate action is a significant force in the shaping of the island: Guam has evolved in a tectonically active area. Episodes of uplift and subsidence, with associated normal faulting, have been ongoing prior to, during, and subsequent to carbonate deposition.13

The action of faults continues to shape the island on a macro scale, but we must consider the production of new faults to which the carbonate limestone is especially vulnerable. Wherever ground runoff is able to penetrate the surface, tunnels called vadose flows will continue to open up and create larger subterranean passages. These flows from the sur-

As the military buildup underwent negotiations in

face and epikarst “can be concentrated by joints and fractures,

2010 and civilians petitioned for equality with the military,

resulting in their dissolutional enlargement.”14 In other words


120 m

100 m

80 m



60 m

40 m

20 m Fault 2-52







Fault 4-61

3-43 Fault

Fault 3-55

the compounding of fractures leads to the formation of caves,

tions of militarzation and geologic phenomena which I have

or speleogenesis. Speleogenesis is now occurring at a grossly

studied may provide some insight.

accelerated rate due to the particular construction methods and uses of the jet noise barrier.

The island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands is riddled with caves and bunkers established during the German occu-

Focusing on the test sector at Echo Red in the north-

pation of the island in WWII. The Germans built an under-

western quadrant of the island, it is demonstrable that the

ground hospital, multiple command centers and ammunition

excavation and construction of the Air Force jet noise barrier

depots, typically beneath churches for safeguarding against

is analogous to some of the geologic processes documented by

air attack. The network is so pervasive that tourism has re-

previous geologists who have studied the Marianas. The Unit-

claimed many of the spaces due to their popularity. Residents

ed States military is also an agent among the telluric processes

of the island have also reported discovering new tunnel net-

of the island. Consider the buildup on Guam which began in

works as they dig to build foundations or to lay new pipes in

2014: a massive excavation tens of meters deep propagated

the ground. The military network of tunnels is thus an infra-

across a linear zone tens of kilometers in length was necessary

structure which both has touristic benefits and domestic haz-

to produce both the space for the military to build in and the

ards. This blurring of military excavations with naturally oc-

material in which to construct the noise-blocking berm. This

curring cave networks is a perenial strategy of militarization.

massive construction effort transformed thousands of cubic meters of limestone and volcanic rock. Both were used as aggregate in the concrete which formed the berm of the jet noise barrier.

World War II bomb shelters and military intelligence centers at Gibraltar, Dover, Cockatoo Island, Yokosuka, and Okinawa all exhibit speleogenesis, leading in certain cases to instability in the rock composition. I have inspected these

The mineral composition of the jet noise barrier is both

karst-tunnel networks and their geologic trajectories have

metamorphic—meaning that it has remixed the contents of

been studied elsewhere.15 Any development which seeks to

the earth and erupted to produce a new mixture of stone—and

build on former military land with limestone tunnels must

sedimentary—given that the constructed landform is already

take special steps to accommodate for geologic instability, the

returning to the stratified earth. Seventy million years of geo-

extent of which is often unknown and/or classified.

logic history have been compressed into a microcosm of forty years of military occupation and demilitarized degradation.

Other Military Geologies and Speleologies This condition is not unique to Guam. Other interac-

Caves and Faults at Echo Red The caves within the porous limestone were an integral part of the military program on Guam. The history dates back to the WWII use of caves, which other geologists have pointed


eas, we can see that the presence of limestone aggregate larger “During the Second World War, Japanese garrisons modified caves for fortification, and stragglers took refuge in caves following the liberation. Live ordinance remains in many.� 16

Even beyond the last century, the military digs tunnels and widens caves to store munitions. I visited a commercial storage facility built into a serpentine canyon on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, converted from a Navy munitions storage facility dating to the Second World War. These bunkers contained phenomenal acoustic properties, stretching some 80 yards deep into soft limestone. Under natural geologic processes, the presence of small caves will often lead to larger phreatic chambers—voids formed by groundwater. The military has accelerated the production of phreatic chambers which usually form gradually as limestone decomposes. Voids of aircraft hangars deep below the surface, carved out of the rock to protect expensive aircraft from super typhoons sweeping the Western Pacific, are now the greatest risk for geologic stability of the island. My team has collected measurements which suggest that microfaults are continually forming beneath the jet noise barrier due to the partial collapse of these chambers. In order to understand how this new rock formation will behave as a stratum in the earth, I have collected samples. The purpose of these samples is to gauge the degree to which carbonic acid (produced by the presence of carbon dioxide in ground runoff) will induce separation of the calcium bonds in the limestone. In the core samples taken from the test ar-

than 600 microns at over 75% density, with a factor of entrained air twice as large as standard concrete. For the stability consequences of the structure, please refer to the forensic engineering report.

Conclusion The hollowness of the rock beneath the jet noise barrier will produce further fracturing and collapse. For this reason we must consider the region around the jet noise barrier to be unstable for permanent development. In order to reclaim the barrier for civilian use, construction must be able to accommodate slippage along faults by up to 10 meters. The National Park Service must consider that military development has resulted in a state of perpetual fracture. The concrete-limestone complex will return to the soil of Guam and become nearly indistinguishable in less than 70 years, aside from the remaining fragments of reinforcing bar which will disintegrate hastily in the moist tropical environment. Entropic forces, however, are not self-propelled but require the input of energy. Lacking a force to fully eradicate the land-form, it will progressively merge with the natural features of the island. We can imagine leading school buses of children to observe a road cut revealing the strata of various epochs: Eocene, Oligocene, late Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, and finally, now within the Holocene, the Military Lamina.




On April 2nd, 2009, I landed at the airport in Naha, Okinawa.

I walked straight out of the airport doors, passing all the Japanese honeymooners catching shuttles to their hotels.

Over the next 11 days I walked 160 miles, pacing out the fences of every US military base on the island,

from Naha Port in the south to the Okuma Military Beach resort in the north.

i walked the fence edges, A landscape of possibilities:

My quest was to trace the seams between a giant military infrastructure and the island landscape which bears the weight of its presence.

A tourism of two overlapping worlds,

this was a journey through spaces tentatively occupied

to which no signs point.

I followed the barbed wire fences for miles and miles.

I walked many miles in between the bases too,

up and down hills,

across villages and under freeways,

beneath a blazing sun

and through a torrential downpour.

I found that after a long trip between bases,

the sight of barbed-wire became eerily comforting.

the fences were like a travel companion that never left my side.

through the fence i watched marines and airmen moving vehicles, jogging, and riding their bicycles.

The chain-link provided a continuous ribbon window

into an inaccessible world.

The actual boundary of the military base property was marked by concrete stubs with crosses etched on top.

The gap between the property markers and fence edge ranged from zero to eight meters in width.

It is a deterritorialized zone where expression is liberated and desires manifest in productive landscapes.

Often the landscape was manicured by Japanese civilians, working for the US military, to provide a clear space

between the fence line and the military property edge.

Occasionally the land was tacitly farmed by locals,

even if only a meter-wide strip was available.

Sugar cane, cabbage, and daikon root were lined up in neat soldierly rows.

In other locations protesters of the bases had tethered messages of peace to the barbed wire.

The colorful streamers pointed to the ugliness of the militarized border.

Dense residential growth pressed against the fence edge

while military buildings and residences were set back great distances.

On one side of the fence was the lush semitropical landscape of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

On the other side was a lawn-mowed stretch of suburban North Carolina.

The walk provided a unique kind of travel, where the map is folded,

and two cultures collide.

WALKING IS A MEANS OF occupying an edge; IT PRODUCES A SOCIAL FORM WITH THE CAPACITY TO ERODE THE EDGEs of larger, normative landscapes to either side of the path.

there is nowhere for the architect to be

walking on these desolate strips.

The zone of operation is thin,

almost negligible

the negligible is where forming begins.


THE landscape preservationist

Seoul. While the South Korean government eagerly awaited the opportunity to redevelop this land once the US army would leave, his one wish was that it remained an “exotic” place. He recalled the feeling of walking along Itaewon Street Ruins: our culture is fascinated with them, and with

at the base’s entrance, where it felt like a piece of America,

military ruins especially. Ruination begins in the aftermath

or at least something like going to Hawaii in the middle of

of militarization. A walled city, no longer in need of its walls,

Seoul. For him what must be preserved is the military land-

is subject to the natural forces of erosion and the economic

scape’s particular ability to reproduce an exoticism within the

forces of redevelopment. A battleground, lacking distinct

familiar. It is the mechanism which maintains that tenuous

boundaries, will be reproduced in a historicized state in order

balance that is in question when we ask how to preserve these

to retain the imprimatur of its events. Ruination deepens to


a point where it might encourage preservation, which, when poorly realized, can bring about further ruination. Ruins of post-military space are fertile ground for design exploration. Military bases and landscapes carry a unique power to thwart unabated development. In North Carolina and Virginia, for example, the designation of historic battleground sites as parks has kept urban sprawl at bay. Militarization sequesters space from hegemonic forces, permitting a set

Landscape and Power First, I would like to explore the nature of landscapes which project power. Consider the Greek hilltop fortress: in its most ideal form it is a perfect enhancement of the terrain, welding landscape and built form, building up from the topography only when strategically necessary. The ideal Greek fortification forms

of uses and possibilities which do not exist in the sea of strip

the tip of a spur, which ran out from the flank of a mountain and was linked to the main mass only by a narrow ridge. … (T)he dwellings of the lower classes, extending down the slopes of the hill, were within convenient distance both of the citadel above and of the field below.17

malls, suburbs, downtowns, and defunct main streets. Yet the act of preservation is not straightforward; it begs attention from the design community and a re-examination of its inner workings to provide models for future base re-use. Precisely how these ruins are produced and then trans-

The hilltop fort creates a fearsome image of an impenetrable fortification because it is joined with the earth.

ferred is at the heart of the preservation concern at Echo Red. The most profound statement on the preservation of military bases came to me from a South Korean man who had served in the South Korean army and worked on a US army base in

Roman fortification stands in direct contrast to Greek fortification. In The Art of War, Niccolo Machiavelli separates the two by means of an opposition between plan and site:

Yet the artifice is not limited to the city walls. Napoleon,

“The Romans… not depending so much upon nature as upon art and good discipline in their camps, constantly chose locations where they could arrange their forces in usual order and exert their whole strength when the need arose. Hence it came to pass that the form of their encampment was always the same because they never swerved from their established discipline, but selected a location which they could make conform to it; whereas the Greeks were often obliged to vary the form and manner of their encampments because they made their discipline give way to the location of the place, which could not always be the same or similar to it.”18

expansive glacis meant that villagers would have to traverse

Machiavelli goes on to demonstrate that a clear plain is the

roundings.21 Palmanova is essentially a ‘Roman’ fortification,

ideal site for a fortress-city. The desired geometry to exert flanking fire upon attackers is unimpeded by natural features of the terrain.19 The ‘site’ may be thus abstracted, as in a Roman outpost with its cardo and decumanus, as a second nature which produces the desired effects of fortification at a theoretically minimal contingency with its environment. In addition, armies may be readily deployed by the gridded order of the Roman outpost. An example of a Roman-abstracted-site fortification is the radial fortress-city of Palmanova in northern Italy. The plan was conceived as a projection upon the landscape, a prototypical nine-pointed star, with little regard for what an ideal civilian space might need. The fortress was designed to repel attacks using the concept of ‘defense-in-depth’. A bastion could fall, but the defense mechanism of the walls permitted an amount of porosity and so made the breach physically impassable through the defenders’ flanking fire. The interior of the fortress served the defensive needs beyond it, and even became a new front line when the wall was breached.

upgrading Palmanova to defend against a new century’s advancements in artillery power, had three surrounding villages leveled in order to meet his engineer’s requirements.20 The long distances of a militarized landscape from the fields to the town center. This separation, and the familiar concept of razing a site in order to create a tabula rasa, foreshadowed the alienation of 20th century city planning from its natural suras it could be placed on any flat plain. It is worth noting as it parallels the history of the jet noise barrier that in the late 20th century the citizens of Palmanova became increasingly aware of the recreational resource of the glacis. Jogging trails, horse stables, and exercise parks sprung up along the perimeter. The cycle from military to recreational space is a recurring theme across history and across the globe.

Towards an American Military Pastoral Guam has always attracted military hobbyists on the tour of the Pacific to witness the history of America’s insatiable quest toward its Manifest Destiny. Even the vestiges of Spanish imperial might—a ruin of a fortress at the southern point—makes a fine picnic ground for motorists making a ring around the island. Certainly, some of the best beaches were on the military bases. On the same beaches in WWII, Guam was heroically recaptured by Marines of the Third Division from Japanese

forces. These Marines would go on to fight in Okinawa and remain based there into the 21st century. While Guam was already a territory belonging to the United States, Okinawa was governed by the US for 25 years before being turned over to the Japanese in 1970. It is possible to link the military occupation of the Western Pacific with this 19th century notion of Manifest Destiny, whereby America has a right to occupy these territories in order to produce and maintain wholeness. It is a continental notion expanded to far-flung islands in the empire. Since the military was evicted from the island in the middle of this century, these military tourists are coming in much greater numbers. What is on view here on Guam is not a display of military power but the evidence of a bygone regime of power subsumed by the landscape. We witness here the ultimate power which governs a landscape—entropy. Military tourists are in search of a picturesque landscape produced by entropy. I will call this picturesque the American military pastoral. First, I will establish a working definition of American military pastoral as exhibited through its memorial landscapes. Gettysburg is a seminal example of this particular type of landscape. It was an ordinary small town with no seeming strategic value prior to the summer of 1863. The conFLEET WEEK AT THE JET NOISE BARRIER C. 2024

vergence of the Union and Confederate armies transformed a ridge with a few promontories just west of the town into a storied landscape, though without the memorials there would be little to remind the visitor of a great battle. For Gettysburg to be read as military pastoral it demanded the memorialization

of the landscape in the decades following the conclusion of

between Americans and Mexicans or white settlers and Native

the war. These memorials, in all shapes and sizes depending

Americans have taken place. Beginning with those localized

on the state and decade of erection, define both the military

militarizations of space, these wide expanses of terrain have

strategic imprint and the touristic idyll of a ‘glorious’ battle.

been vital in training, weapons testing, climate simulation,

Tourists move in a parade along the front lines, pausing to

and urban warfare simulation for the wars of the 20th and 21st

reflect on what is portrayed, whether it is glory or sacrifice

centuries.22 America has depended upon these landscapes in

or both. Fences are restored to 1860s conditions. The forest

order to conduct warfare across the globe, thereby linking the

is coppiced to maintain a density which historians believe is

American pastoral with landscapes beyond America’s bor-

most accurate to the battle conditions. It is arguably over-

ders. Military tourism belongs to this practice of searching for

memorialized and groomed as one would manicure a model

the American pastoral, distributed on a global scale.

train set.

Let’s look closer at the American West. In Marfa, Texas,

The cyclorama of the Battle of Gettysburg is also part

Fort D.A. Russell was originally an outpost for fighting Native

of the composite which defines the American pastoral at Get-

Americans. General Patton, having spent time riding horses

tysburg. A 360-degree painting by Philippe Philippoteaux, of

there, chose it as a prisoner-of-war camp for German officers

which four copies were made and exhibited across the United

captured in North Africa—thus simulating the environment

States and in Europe, it depicts a commanding view of the

in which the officers were captured. This practice of putting

battle from a single position. The cyclorama, exhibited in a

prisoners-of-war in a similar climate to the one in which they

room fit to its form with a light and sound show, defines the

were captured was in fact international protocol. Curiously,

pastoral landscape as a totality, where event and scene form a

buildings on the former base contain murals painted by the

seamless and inseparable union. Exhibited in locations such

German officers of idyllic scenes of the Bavarian countryside.

as Boston, Chicago, and Paris, the Battle of Gettysburg was a spectacle of simulation. To appreciate the battle—to memorialize it—we needed to feel as though we were there, that the event has value in its reproduction. Tourists want to witness the pastoral landscape as an exotic, mythical landscape. We cannot separate a definition of American landscape from the wars we have fought at home and abroad. This is especially true of the militarized deserts and mountain ranges of the American West, in places where only localized battles

Marfa later became the home of sculptor Donald Judd, who filled the husks of military forms with abstract frames of concrete and aluminum, alternately encapsulating and mirroring the landscape. Pastoral is more of a projection, a virtual landscape such as the cyclorama, than an actual one. Contributing another layer to its virtual dimensions, these desert locations were also ideal for training. In the “Long War” of the 00’s and teens, fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, mock-Arab cities were built in the desert of the Southwest to

prepare G.I.s for urban combat. The tactical name for warfare

bers of the New Confederate States movement who manicure

in built-up environments was MOUT—Military Operations on

Civil War battlefields to portray a more heroic picture of 19th

Urbain Terrain). These “active ghost towns,” as the founder of

century Confederate America. Likewise, a neutral presenta-

Subtopia, Bryan Finoki, would dub them, fittingly appropri-

tion of the US military is not possible in this examination of

ated an instant architecture of container boxes to simulate the

Echo Red. It is my express desire to show the great material

blocky low-slung developments typical of Afghanistant and

expense of the US military in building up their global empire

Iraq. The MOUT landscape became a mechanism for produc-

so that we may challenge the practices of this colossal institu-

ing in the warrior’s mind a sense of familiarity once the actual

tion. As an act of ‘challenge’ the very mechanics of preserva-

war-landscape was encountered.

tion come into question.

On another desert base, Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas,

Guam is a significant site in the formation of America’s

there is a Japanese garden outside of the headquarters, built

history, from its role in World War II, to a staging ground in

by visiting Japanese Self Defense Force soldiers, likely using

the Vietnam War, and to a strongpoint in the Pacific Wall dur-

the facilities for their own desert simulation needs. It is both

ing the trade embargo on China. What happened on Guam in

a token gesture towards cultural assimilation and a genuine

the years following the military buildup of 2014 also led to the

attempt to merge a Japanese sense of pastoral landscape with

writing of a UN Convention stating that military bases cannot

an American one. The significance in the Japanese garden at

be built without embedding an infrastructure for future use.23

Fort Bliss is that it is a microcosm for the production of a pas-

This Convention has not yet been signed by the United States.

toral landscape within the military bases of Guam: a feigned attempt at “cultural camouflage”.

The first question is how to preserve a war-landscape? In Charlottesville, Virginia, I encountered a Civil War histori-

We can now inspect Guam, an outlying county of the

an who is involved on numerous preservation councils of Civil

American West which has played a vital role in projecting mil-

War battlefields. The most significant preservation challenge,

itary power abroad. In what ways is the military occupation

he has told me, is simply how to keep a ditch from eroding

registered in the landscape? I will now answer these questions

away.24 It cannot be done without some form of reconstruc-

and lay out a framework to guide the preservation of the mili-

tion, a direct challenge to the practice of preservation.

tary base edge on Guam.

The Mechanics of Preservation There are some within the profession of landscape preservation who use preservation to historicize, such as the mem-

Fort Circle in Washington D.C. is an example of a postmilitary landscape distributed along a linear corridor and the challenges presented in its preservation. Fort Circle is comprised of earthen forts built by the Union Army to defend the capital city from Confederate forces. The forms of the for-

tresses within the Circle are nearly impossible to preserve; the ravelins and epaulettes become indistinguishable from naturally-formed mounds and ditches. One alternative is reconstruction, yet to reconstruct is to not only wipe clean the vestiges of time but to force an interpretation upon the site. Therefore, preserving a war-landscape in this ‘Greek’ category of fortification means interfering in a manner subordinate to the forces of entropy. These pastoral landscapes, in order to be preserved, require the agency of a third party which sees the value of the landscape simply for its resource of land, often abundant in quantity and lacking the detritus of development. Looking again at Fort Circle, the McMillan Commission Plan of 1902 saw the resource of these undeveloped areas occupied by forts and their surroundings and laid out a plan for their incorporation into Washington D.C.’s recreational infrastructure.25 The trend of converting military bases into parks continued into the late 20th century. Another example on the opposite coast suggests that there is more to the restoration of former military lands than simply adding recreational areas. Along the lines of a ‘Roman’ fortification, the Presidio in San Francisco is identified by a well-defined parade ground faced with rows of officer housing and meeting halls. The buildings therefore demand a preservation mode which is more honest to the era of occupation, even if the officers have long since departed. The Presidio is tactfully restored and groomed by the National Park Service and various entities under its wing. And yet as proper and well-meaning as the restoration is, the Park Service holds a great deal of power through its stewardship of the former mil-


itary base. The Presidio is still pregnant with power. Former bases in less affluent areas have met a more

result, the mechanism which preserves the interior shifts from a physical entity (the berm) to a bureacratic one (NPS).

difficult transition. The United States, under BRAC (Base Re-

As an observer who fixes his gaze on the walls and

alignment and Closure) initiated a wave of freed-up military

boundaries, on the shifting relationships between interior

land in the 1990s. In response to this real-estate windfall, the

and exterior, it is clear that a total view which sees the in-

NPS aided communities to snatch up the land for parks. The

terior and exterior as a single landscape is essential to the

NPS has been a strong force in retaining the character of these

full-scale preservation of the base. The connection between

military landscapes for future visitation and interpretation.

the built form of the edge and the landscape which the edge

Their role is to provide a bureaucratic backbone to maintain

bisects must be actively and vigorously exposed in order

the real-estate assets while trumping any strong-willed move-

to reveal the history of military power. Moreover, access

ment to change the nature of the park, whether for economic

should be opened up to enable the porosity of the boundary

development or productive ecologies. The end result is a neu-

which led to the miliatary’s eviction.

tralization of the landscape, serving neither fish nor fowl. In the case of Echo Red this neutral attitude towards preservation is detrimental to the future of the park. Currently, the NPS cordons off as much land as possible, funneling in visitors to isolated pockets of stabilized zones. The Park Service, in spite of their good intentions, stunt the growth of future information transformations. The identity of the jet noise barrier, however, must be maintained as a larger land form. After all, as the ornithologist will show, it was the informal occupations by birds and people alike that initiated the departure of the military.

Management Recommendation Post-military landscapes are islands within a sea of everyday space. Preserving the military pastoral means dispersing the power held singularly by the military apparatus into a manifold of cultural substreams. We can witness here the dissolution of power, as all that is solid melts into air. However, can we preserve military space as places of difference without oppressing possibilities for change? Stewardship of the landscape by a single entity—in this case the National Park Service—must be fought at every level. To channel a modicum of residual military power and uphold

The scale is the issue here—NPS sees only the intimate

these exotic sites against a tide of mediocrity, the preserva-

scales within the structure worthy of upkeep, such- as a bat

tionist-designer has the delicate task of curating entropy—

cave here or a noise-scattering cone there. NPS then views the

the task of manufacturing the picturesque.

interior as a larger whole, independent of the base edge and the community outside. This attitude mirrors the previous occupant’s tendency to turn their back to the fence edge. As a

this period of creativity was made so by the containment of time, the pressure to build upon something every day

5. scheduling

The field of things which I can do is an impossibly wide thing. making is finding that ultra narrow band of things that I should do. things That I must do.

so many hours, so many days, so many weeks... not time, not measured: the pleasure is in the immeasurable, in the possibile. what to do with all this time, how to plan it: to spend it in the woodshop, on the laser, projecting sound; to ignore the schedule completely if one so desires.

to-do lists never end

one list begets another.

I was driving yes duffy’s pickup truck with about 10 4x8 sheets of brown hardboard strapped to the roof. On the way, the truck hit a bump and all the sheets came flying off the top and spread out across the road, splintered and scuffed-up. i cleared the sheets from the road and realized:




some thing


there was a certain desirable quality to this mauled material. Rather than lament the loss of their wholeness, I looked at the sheets as fragments of a necessary process.


om en


w he


in ee


ped at the eaktied to the roof, and off it flop rsity, br and unive t s r a e h tion of t intersec d no coul i 4’x8’ n o i drove yes’s truck with a stack of hardboard (poorly) p reu , whe t l a asph the g on in return it to the lu mb moment, th er yard. at this e hardboar d became lo dged into th e thesis, surfacing at all


THE forensic engineer

Syracuse, Dionysus planned with cunning, developing a set of flexible walls that both took advantage of a natural plateau and, with strategically placed openings in the defensive walls, permitted the besieged to strike at the enemy and return easThe National Park Service has brought me to Guam to

ily to safety. Now extending to the operative quality of forti-

measure the progress of the jet noise barrier-structure as it

fications, “elasticity and mobility have replaced the old prin-

falls into ruin. The problem is essentially one of documenta-

ciple of defense by inert mass.” 26 Millenia later, the 4,500km

tion. How is ruination measured and tracked? A forensic en-

long line of Atlantikwal bunkers were designed with the un-

gineer typically studies the mechanism behind collapse, not

derstanding that an invasion would inevitably occur and the

the ruins themselves. A forensic engineer is typically asked to

invading forces would likely gain a foothold on the continent.

be a witness to some failure which has already occurred and

The Atlantikwal’s inland “wall” of bunkers formed second-

to document how and why it occurred. In the instance of the

ary and tertiary lines of resistance which assumed the Allies

jet noise barrier, failure is widespread and pervasive—indeed,

would gain a temporary foothold on the continent but would

it is unstoppable. There is not a ‘wrong’ to make ‘right’, no

close up the fracture as soon as it would have been opened.

particular wound to be healed, and no representation to be made in a legal court which will determine fault. The (ongoing) collapse of the jet noise barrier is no typical problem. Rather than look backward toward fault, I am going to show is that fracturing was intentionally built into the structure and that this has enabled the piecemeal reclamation by the denizens of the base edge.

This familiar story of inherent fractures in military space has played out here on Guam, where the military took up a ‘permanent siege’ of the island’s population under the guise of providing jobs and security. The wall erected along the perimeter of the base purportedly blocked jet sound. However, the real purpose was to keep the island’s population from seeing and hearing the daily training exercises and other

Patent Situations, Latent Opportunities

activities of the military. It functioned as a ‘ha-ha’—a form of deception in landscape design which produces a boundary by

Intentional fractures are inherent qualities in military

means other than obvious fences and walls. A typical ha-ha

space. The history of military architecture produces numer-

would be a ditch which from afar does not interrupt the hori-

ous exhibits of designed fracture. Considering the citadel,

zontal view, yet it provides the function of a wall. In the case

the ideal fortress is not necessarily hermetically sealed from

of the jet noise barrier, a new horizon was generated. This

its surroundings. As siege machinery and disciplined armies

simple mechanism provided a visual depth, penetrating the

posed greater challenges to besieged cities, the notion of a

actual boundary of military space.

hermetically sealed fortress became obsolete.

At ancient

Wildlife habitat also provided a false depth. Birds oc-

neers appropriated wave-energy reflecting geometries such

cupied voids, accessed through fractures in the structure and

as those found at the Benefield Anechoic Facility on Edwards

established a vibrant limestone forest ecology. These factors

Air Force Base. Extensive studies revealed that the jet noise

contributed to the ‘defense’ of the military base by means of

barrier, due to the curve and cantilever desired for structural

built-in fractures. In some cases, however, the occupation of

purposes, would reflect both sound and radar waves back to-

fractures multiplied them, increasing the risk of structural

wards the occupied areas on the base. To solve for the mirror-


ing effects of a large wall, the military engineers considered

Fracturing is not synonymous with failure; fracturing only exhibits the potential or likelihood for something to fail. The International Institute of Forensic Engineering Sciences defines failure as the “inability of a component, structure, or facility to perform its intended function.”27 This could lead to, for example, structural collapse, excessive vibration, and poor acoustics. It is possible, then, that the structure could retain fractures while still performing its intended function, to attenuate jet sound.

Observations of Failure To ask how a structure may have failed, we must first ask if it performed its intended function. The concrete-limestone complex was both a logical construction solution and an appropriate material choice for noise absorption. The particular demands of absorbing jet sound were further met by the presence of limestone coral as an aggregate in the concrete. With pores exceeding 180 microns within an average aggregate size of 750 microns, the composition is improved several-fold over standard concrete in sound absorption.28 The military deemed it important both to absorb sound with physical mass and to scatter reflected sound through a rough aggregate finish surface of the concrete. The military engi-

Nicholas Grimshaw’s British Airways office at Heathrow Airport for its “radar invisibility.”29 Therefore, at the moments of greatest reflection, the noise-scattering geometry became most pronounced, exceeding base to apex distances of 2.5 meters. The berm successfully buffered the community immediately adjacent to it from noise propagated across the military property line and it reduced the noise reflected back into the base from the aircraft sources. Speaking to the structural performance, my findings show that the built form adequately supported the design dead-load, but the additional loads taken on following the departure of the military are the subject in question. Failure is evident in the cantilever. The cantilevered wall succeeded in suppressing the transmission of sound from the inside of the base to the exterior, but this cantilever has proven to be unsustainable. Just the other day I was riding in a Jeepney from the Bravo Green entrance to Delta White station, and we heard a thundering crash. The driver pulled over and with the other passengers we all gazed out to locate the source of this colossal noise. The crash was followed by a series of grinding thuds, and sharp snaps. There, across the expanse of jungle,

an entire ridge was caving in, dropping to the forest floor with

velopment removed any source for upkeep of the structure.

an enormous mass of live vegetation. Birds lifted from tree-

Second, the lack of development led to exponential growth

tops for kilometers in all directions. Following this startling

of vegetation on and within the structure, adding to the dead

experience, no seemingly natural feature can be regarded as

load on the cantilever. My estimations show that at least 25%

stable in the Park. The landscape is in flux, the processes of

of the cantilevered sections have collapsed, with another 45%

which demand accountability.

at risk of imminent failure.

The military has abandoned the structure and left it to the island residents to maintain, not unlike the sudden departure of the military from Clark Air Force Base and Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines in 1991. The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo coupled with unrest building in the Philippine Senate over the US bases resulted in the military’s exodus. In the case of the Philippine bases, the infrastructure left behind was in pristine condition (though covered in several feet of ash from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo). The Filipinos found creative ways to repurpose the roads and buildings, just as they converted the surplus Jeeps from WWII into the Jeepney, the most widespread mode of transit to this day in the Western Pacific. The sudden departure of the military in the 90s left a vast wealth of recyclable infrastructure. The bases were converted to ‘Freeport Zones’ with light-industrial business parks, duty-free shops, hotels and casinos. A mixture of adhoc appropriations of space and corporate sharking of large tracts of land mark the reclamation of the Philippine bases. On Guam the military’s departure was also sudden but the action of the Department of the Interior to reclaim the land as a National Park jeopardized the noise suppressing berm. The transfer of land froze development in and around the berm, which had two results. First, a lack of economic de-

Hypothesis: Planned Failure Based on these observations, the military planned for the failure of the structure, as such an extreme cantilever would have to be planned to collapse in a manner that sacrificed certain parts for the greater whole. The military controlled the zones of fracture via ‘dogbone’ connections at intervals along the cantilever, with increasing chance of failure as you move up to the end of the cantilever. The ‘dogbone’ is used in standard construction to allow a beam to fail while leaving columns—the primary mode of support—intact. This process is standard in Japanese construction where it has been employed by such prominent construction firms as Kajima, the prime contractor of the project in question. These built-in flaws in the concrete are accompanied by adverse effects of the collusion between Japanese concrete contractors and the government. Considering other concrete construction built in Japan around the same time, Japanese concrete firms have a tendency to over-build in order to maintain their government-backed construction regimes. Land retention systems in Japan, for example, are often designed as heavy waffle grids which are molded to the topography and cover it to a uniform structural depth. The construction is heavy-handed. As one Japanese construction expert ex-


fracture 1.8

100 m

line of original curvature

120 m

4D 102C

80 m

R.1 HANGER #21a -93.A.12

CANTEEN #92a -.75.A.02

PARACHUTERS #93b -83.B.69

CARGO HOLD #13b -101.A.27

A5.1 139D.3

60 m

MRE STORAGE #17c -39.C.68

LPUGS #21c

HAZMAT #29d -101.D.94b










40 m 126.38

20 m

HAZMAT STG. #31d -103.D.39d


6.28 5.4



excessive displacement







ultimate exceeded






A5.3b 158B

97 57 .


EL. 226 2



7 32.8 32.8


5 32.9







R.5 BOT/SHIELD EL. 137.52

R.4 R.3

43 6.28


TARMAC EL. 100'-0"


TARMAC EL. 100'-0"


TARMAC EL. 100'-0"

OIL CHANGE -42b -02.B.97

TARMAC EL. 100'-0" 33.49










3.28 9.84

TARMAC #07b 100.A.04

S F O EE R DW C G O . N # TI 14 N a U AT IO N

LATRINE -207b -23.B.01

TARMAC #07a 100.A.03

A5.3b 158B


HANGER #02a -304.A.43






plains, it’s like “shooting goldfish with a bazooka.”30 The land retaining system is related to the jet noise barrier because of the waffle-grid system. Military engineers developed a system which is a marriage of the organic waffle-grid exhibited in the Japanese land retention example and the elegant reinforced concrete structures pioneered by J. Luis Nervi. The additional concrete mass produced a structure with a high dead-load. Given the risks both of earthquakes and super-typhoons, such a massive structure could not be designed to withstand tremendous forces, leading to the engineering of its failure.

Testing/Analysis: Let Hitler Take The Cake Observing the moments of failure, several questions arise. How large do the cracks become before failure? Can we predict this entropic process to any degree? The process of collapse begins as steel in the cantilever gradually loses tension. Increase in dead-loads as noted above produces larger uniform loading.The ductility of the steel then permits such a great deflection that entire sections of the barrier become unsustainable and the ‘dogbone’ moment produces failure. The break, however, is gradual, with sudden bursts of progress, until the section finds support from the ground below or by artificial means. I performed a series of tests on models made of a similar composite, using a controlled water drip to induce the failure of the cantilever in the model. The water drip is an excellent means of testing how this model will behave because it is the absorption and retention of water which induces both spalling in the concrete and the dissolution of limestone. We can only predict the rate or tendency for this process to occur, while


core sampling can verify these estimations. Since the concrete is porous to such a high degree, it is also less stable. Comparing the construction of this barrier to other concrete constructions of this caliber, such as the Atlantikwal bunkers on the French coast, we can estimate that the concrete will decompose at least twice as fast. These bunkers have a minimum wall thickness of two meters, while the jet noise barrier has an average thickness of only .75 meters. If

This leaves a second alternative open to the people of Guam. As in the Filipino Jeepney culture, Guahan entrepreneurs such as industrious swiftlet birders already contain the will to invest in the fractured jet noise barrier. These processes of micro-reclamation, in direct opposition and yet also with great deference to the processes of entropy, need only the right set of tools and a proper political and economic climate to achieve a complete re-occupation of the structure.

the jet noise barrier will not last as long as the Atlantikwal

While the military invited the principles of designed fail-

bunkers, the United States military might just let Hitler take

ure, the repurposing of this structure cannot be left to a single

the full brunt of General Patton’s scathing criticism: “Fixed

entity such as the Park Service. Citizens have been fighting for

fortification is a monument to the stupidity of man.”

greater access and control over the future of this enormous

Conclusion by way of Indeterminacy The force of ruination is accelerating, as fractures increase and spread from the apex of the cantilever to the thicker base sections. Within this inevitability lie several alternatives. One option is to leave the land to the Park Service to retrofit certain sections of the barrier, preserving the fractures in their present state. The Park Service wants to deploy some buttressing prototypes to protect visitors from random collapse, beginning at the apex. The buttresses would receive the deflecting cantilever as it gradually fails and is lowered to the jungle floor. This carefully choreographed curation of the ruins is producing inroads into the space—it is a scaffolding which enables a touristic occupation. However, the action of the Park Service, and any governing body for that matter, is fundamentally inept at the process of reclamation. Reclamation occurs by individual action.

infrastructural resource. Furthermore, the entropic process is simply too unpredictable for a single land tenant to oversee. The nature of entropy is that of the infinitesimal. Therefore, the greatest dispersion of power would lead to the finest grain of reclamation: thousands of eyes and hands picking up the fragments of concrete and figuring for them a new life.

this form was there from the beginning. i swear.

7. drawing



drawing is conceptual glue, linking models with simulation, sound with content, virtuality with experience, the island with the ocean.


a drawing lives only for itself; drawing is the ultimate selfish activity. so drawing is fit for island-making

8. the ornithologist

argument is further strengthened by the long history of neoliberal development leading to ecological destruction. If the military can provide both an alternative to that form of deGuam is an exciting place to study birds due to the varied habitats in which you may find them, from cliff-top roosts to subterranean nests. My particular interest is studying bird life that is found in or depends upon the presence of caves. This work is more aptly described as chiroptology—the

velopment and enable future ecological reclamation, the resistance to military expansion loses great traction. So by what means can the future denizens of military landscapes produce a detournement and evict their artful landlords? Birds may provide an answer.

study of bats. My expertise is on the Aerodramus vanikore-

The fact remains that bird life flourishes in these ar-

nsis, known as yayaguak in the native Chamorro language,

tificially isolated mini-ecosystems. It is worth looking into

or commonly referred to as the Island Swiftlet. The most re-

why birds flock to the former airfields. Curiosity into this

markable characteristic of this species of bird is that it navi-

manmade habitat had drawn myself to the island and I have

gates with the same sonic mechanism of bats—echolocation—

brought numerous research assistants over the years. I have

yet the sound is audible, unlike bat sonar. Of further interest

even set up an observation blind in a former officer’s house, in

to mankind, the nests produced by this bird are a gastronomic

a particularly strategic location overlooking one of the Swiftlet

delicacy and can be actively farmed. The multi-million dollar

cave apertures. The following rubric will detail my observa-

Swiftlet farming industry which repurposes abandoned build-

tion methods and lead to some conservation recommenda-

ings in Malaysia to harvest the edible nests of these birds has


already taken root in the abandoned hollows of the jet noise barrier. A productive ecology such as this is ideal for Guam, which still depends heavily on imported foods such as Spam. The habitat for the Swiftlet is a sensitive subject to study for environmental preservationists and demilitarization activists alike. The subject is sensitive because the study of new ecologies within Guam’s former military landscape may possibly justify a more widespread global military occupation. Using successfully converted bases as precedent, militaries could justify expanding into ecotones, or ecological transition zones, previously unavailable for development. The military’s

Study Areas and Field Methods Over the past decade I have surveyed the limestone forest bird communities of Guam at three principle sites. The Park Service has asked me to provide a more detailed analysis of one of these three sites, the section of the jet noise barrier known as Echo Red. At this section we have detected 11 species of birds among 117 mist net captures, 22 point detections, and 387 total observations. To understand how precisely the bird is making decisions and finding ideal habitat, I have used a form of sonar-

tracking and established digital castings of their habitat. We produced several ‘sonic casts’ not unlike the plaster casts that a myrmecologist uses to study ant habitat. As the swiftlet perceives solid surfaces by sonar, so too did we navigate the deepest tunnels with a military surplus drone buggy and sonar equipment. Swiftlet habitat density was measured by the detection of nests. This tunnel network combines both subterranean phreatic chambers as described by the geologist and the military’s vacated hangars mentioned by the landscape preservationist. Although I began tracking avifauna on Guam five years after the departure of the military, it is estimated that bird

f35 jsf

habitat has increased by 800% since the last F-35 took flight from Andersen Air Force Base. What is remarkable, however, is that this bird population depended on a military presence in the first place. To understand the nature of the Swiftlet habitat we must consider how and why it was constructed in the first place.

Militarized Ecologies Military development is inextricably linked to the harboring of ecologies. Attention was brought earlier this century to the unmatched resource of the 240-km-long Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separated North and South Korea. It is one of the longest uninterrupted wildlife corridors in Asia. Tourists visiting observation centers in South Korea could learn about efforts to preserve this interstitial zone in anticipation island swiftlet

of a reunification. The DMZ was only demilitarized in the diplomatic sense of the word; the zone was heavily mined and

charged with the tension of imminent conflict. Adjacent US-

by the military studying and learning from the propensities

South Korean bases filled the air with the sounds of training

of the birds to generate new habitat. In order to encourage

on a daily basis. Land mines provided “the greatest threat

the growth of this habitat, botanists and ornithologists were

to animals in the region, especially larger mammals like the

retained on the military’s civilian staff. Their studies and pres-

mule deer.”31 To truly develop this landscape as an ecologi-

ervation actions, necessary to keep watchdogs at bay, did en-

cal habitat would take some significant effort following a full

hance the development of the avian ecosystem.


These modifications follow a history of the military

While ecologies are permitted to thrive in large mili-

tampering with the ecosystem. Guam was occupied by the

tarized zones such as the DMZ, the ecosystem should not be

Japanese during WWII; the battle to reclaim this island ren-

confused with an image of pristine habitat. My travels have

dered large swaths of its landscape barren and susceptible to

taken me to the observation posts and numerous visitor cen-

erosion. The US military tree-bombed the island, dropping

ters along the DMZ’s periphery. Inside these inflated sym-

seeds of a non-native, rapidly growing tree called the tangan

bols, myths of an ecological wonderland are propogated by

tangan from B-52 bombers. The trees, native to tropical Latin

displays, videos (one in particular that sticks in my memory

America and first brought over by the colonizing Spaniards,

is a girl playing with butterflies in the tall grass of a de-demil-

forever altered the physical makeup of the island as they grew

itarized zone), and so on. The myths of a whole ecosystem are


in fact elements in the mechanism of deception by the South Korean Army.

While not intentionally wrought by the military, another post-WWII tampering of the ecosystem came by way of

Likewise on Guam, the deception of protecting an eco-

the brown tree snake, likely a stowaway on a cargo ship post-

system was critical to the military’s prolonged presence there.

WWII. Bird population was dramatically reduced as a result

The jet noise barrier depended on a shroud of bird habitat

of this introduced predator, leading to the extirpation of nine

to maintain its presence. The berm effectively doubled the

of eleven endemic species. This loss of bird diversity left a scar

landscape at the base border with the plan that local citizens

on Guam that would become a playing card in the military’s

could then reclaim the land for development. On this doubled

hand as they fought groups protesting a host of detrimen-

ground the native limestone forest thrived, sending roots

tal social factors leading from the military’s presence. The

deep into the concrete-limestone composite.

ecosystem developing on the berm was a bartering chip on

The bird habitat in general, and swiftlet habitat in particular, was initially created by the birds finding ideal locations within the jet-noise barrier and later intentionally produced

the table of US military negotiations with local and national stakeholders in the future Guam.

40 m

20 m


60 m

habitat cave sections 1.2

80 m


100 m


120 m





habitat cave sections 3

Camouflage Ecologies

Another sort of camouflage appeared to mask US bases at the beginning of this century, when the greatest threat to

To more fully understand the production of militarized

their longevity was not enemy attack but the unabated devel-

ecologies, I will discuss briefly a history of camouflage begin-

opment of the neighboring communities. The military term

ning with a well-known example from the 20th century. In

for this is ‘encroachment’ defined in the Center for Public En-

the First World War, Great Britain contracted artists to come

vironmental Oversight report as “the real or perceived conflict

up with concepts of camouflage for its fleet.32 The success-

between the military training mission and the physical envi-

ful solution involved irregular patterns of highly contrasting

ronment of habitat, species, people and communities.”35 The

painted shapes on the hulls of the ships, rather than painting

issue of encroachment moved to the fore of military concern

a ship to blend in with horizon or sea. From the firetowers

in base planning, prompting a report by the RAND corpora-

of bunkers, where the direction and range of ships needed to

tion in 2007 titled The Thin Green Line. The conclusion of the

be determined and communicated to the cannon crew, these

report is that “military departments [must] partner with state

painted ships (while easy to spot) scrambled the rangefind-

and local governments or private nonprofit organizations to

ers. Camouflage need not assimilate its natural surroundings;

establish buffer areas.”36 Another way to look at a “buffer

camouflage needs only the viewer to be deceived.

area” is as a performative camouflage; it is a constructed, ar-

In the next great war, camouflage gave birth to a new

tificial ecology.

ecological practice. Due to the advancement and widespread

Bird habitat has historically functioned as a buffer. In

use of aerial reconnaissance, camouflage depended upon a

Stuttgart, Germany, abandoned US Army housing had be-

holistic concept of site. Major Robert P. Breckenridge writes

come swallow habitat, a stop along the migratory route from

in Modern Camouflage that “the less the interference with the

Africa to Northern Europe. When the Army decided that it

pattern and features of the ground, the better will be the re-

needed to re-purpose the old barracks, the local government

sults.”33 Breckenridge adds that “during construction ground

would not let them renovate the buildings without consider-

scars should be as limited as possible, and should be confined

ing the needs of the migrating swallows.38 As a result, the mili-

to the areas of actual construction work.” Military develop-

tary designed over-sized eaves for the remodeled barracks to

ment, then, driven by the need to be hidden from view, had to

accommodate swallow habitat while allowing the buildings to

work with what was available, rather than project an artificial

be re-occupied.


order upon the site.

The appendix of Breckenridge’s study

includes a quantification of native tree species, listing their

The camouflage engineer is now invested in more than

density of foliage, growth heights, etc. The military engineer

the imagery of a landscape. Whereas previous generations of

becomes a botanist by strategic necessity.

camouflage could be painted on, the lifecycle of a landscape

cannot be designed in a single gesture. The architects MVRDV

The informal re-settlement of the jet noise barrier will

understood this perfectly well, that a design on such a large

produce the most successful long-term preservation of the

scale which impacts ecologies must be rigorously tested with

swiftlet birds. When the Guahan link the success of the swift-

end-game scenarios thoroughly developed before the onset of

let species with their own sustenance and longetivity on the

construction. As such, the camouflaged buffer zone, once de-

island, the resulting productive ecology embodies a certain

lineated, can be “projected into the future and allowed to grow

power in and of itself. The ecology harbors a certain amount

in over time.�37

of power, tapped into by local economic and recreational driv-

Conservation Recommendations Through the production of a new ground plane on the jet noise barrier, the military aided in the production of bird habitat. For a number of decades, this strategy of living beneath the thickened veil of bird habitat allowed the military to expand their operations. Yet the amplified presence of birds is what ultimately drove the military off the island. Protests by avifauna activists and a series of ornithological acoustic ecology studies depicting the harmful effects of jet noise on bird life sealed the eviction letter. Since the departure of the military, the stewardship of bird habitat has taken multiple directions. The portion of the former jet noise barrier beneath the Park Service (approximately 90% of the total habitat on the island) has its own set of conservation guidelines which I do not have room to comment upon in this paper. The majority of the bird habitat, however, exists without human governance. In the sinuous, undulating folds of the collapsing structure, locals are carving out new tunnels, installing swiftlet mating call devices, and gaining access to voids previously unknown to both bird and man for the benefit of swiftlets and other subterranean species.

ers. On the other hand, the Park Service under a federal department holds a given alotment of power and seeks to maintain that power through the authority over its ecological domain. The Park Service seeks within the ecosystem the sustenance for its regime of tourism and conservation techniques, rather than beginning with the power of the landscape and finding new uses, new ecological potentials within it. The people of Guam may produce a profound example of resistance, where not only the military would be ousted via the biopower of the ecosystem, but so too would the Park Service be overcome by a self-replicating, subterranean, fractal birdscape: a shroud of swiftlet space.

9. modeling

a model is a constructed drawing, more of a world unto itself.

models continually mask surfaces. We layer surface upon surface.

let the truth finds its way out from beneath the heap.

even if it takes a hundred years.

There is a point where producing a new island because it is what you would most love to do with your ticket to infinity can erode the originary island, the VERY ground itself upon which we stand.

making failed islands because there is no originary island.





BUT THE physical MODEL is an imperfect child.

where a certain precision is made possible through digital models,


<<jet sound>>




> nd>





> >>

sound <<jet sound>> <<jet so nd>> sou un <<j <<jet d> et > so un <<jet sound>> > > <<j d n d>> u o s et<<jet <<j <<j so un et et d>> sound>> <<jet so so un un <<jet sound>> d> d> > > <<j et so und>> <<j <<jet sound>> <<je e t t sou <<j so et <<jetnd>> <<jet sound>> un so soun un d>> d>> <<jet sound>> d> >


d> >

so un






t <je


d>> un




sound <<jet

so et <<j




so un d


>> sound

<< je t


sou jet








the same digital model is susceptable to glitches or “noise” modeling retains GLITCHES AND AMPLIFIEs them.

EAMES HAS SAID: “Design depends largely on constraints”

What happens when architecture becomes about the constraints themselves? Is this the promise of parametric design, then: That we are no longer striving to expand the domain of architecture, but rather we are writing the edge itself, a spiral with no occupiable center. Architecture is not inscribed, rather it inscribes. It is not a domain but an infinite periphery.

assemblages of separate and independently produced parts

models are frozen collisions.


as though the models wanted to fall apart ON THEIR OWN ACCORD.

to fall apart is the final liberation.

10. the sonic archivist

backyard feast. Walk through the foliage which grows on the berm and rise up where the tinny chatter of people in the villages and the machines on the road condense into a mist of The soundscape of Guam has undergone a profound metamorphosis. Listening today, we hear the sounds of visitors and commuters on the busy roads, a general bustle of development which continues to amass at the edges of the

white noise. Descend through a fracture in the ground. As you wind through the opening, the sound of your footsteps bouncing quickly back to your ears, a vista opens through the gaping mouth of the jet noise barrier.

former base. By contrast, the interior of the base, once full of

With the departure of the military, the jet noise bar-

deafening military noise is now devoid of the sounds of ma-

rier has switched orientations, blocking not jets but the back-

chines. We have instead an abundantly rich soundscape of

ground rush of the every-day landscape. On the former interi-

bird calls, the rustling canopy of the emergent rainforest, and

or, exotic bird calls cutting through the still air to your cochlea

hollowed landforms which produce low resonances recalling

signify to you this brave new world.

jets returning from a sortie over the Philippine Sea. Today’s soundscape is a mix of repetitive sounds which cross-over from a historic soundscape and a plethora of new sounds. As an archivalist, my task is to provide a means/mechanism for preserving the aural landscape. I am required to be selective. Moreover, there is a great power in the act of archiving; I am selecting which histories will be retained and repeated, engraving an ever-deeper groove into a disc of vinyl. The recordings I harbour produce both the histories of and the futures for the island, both a sonic archaeology and a sonic architecture. First, I must be precise in describing exactly what this sonic archive is. The sonic archive is best experienced by walking through it. Start the walk from the former edge of the base. Your ears will be full of the sound of tires on the road and perhaps Filipunk music emanating from a nearby Guahan household. The rip of a lawnmower, a cluster of laughter from a

Method of Sonic Archiving As I archive these sounds I am simultaneously seeking to preserve them. What does it mean to preserve the sounds we hear in a landscape? The synthesis of sound and landscape is a soundscape, a term coined by the Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer. According to Schafer, a soundscape consists of keynote sounds, signals, and soundmarks. Keynote sounds refers to background sounds, signals refer to foreground sounds, and ‘soundmark’ refers to “a community sound which is unique or possesses qualities which make it specially regarded or noticed by people in that community.”39 While the keynote sounds and signals can be uniquely identified in a sound recording, the soundmark requires some relationship to a physical landscape. Schafer’s concept of the soundmark is of particular interest to this study. A sound is not merely an emission from

a source; it is a composite of environmental absorptions and reflections of the source’s sound. This unique imprint defines a soundmark and therefore embodies that which a sonic archivalist seeks to preserve.

In addition to laying out criteria for evaluating the

different signals and soundmarks which identify a place, Schafer bemoaned the lack of design in the world’s soundscape. He suggested that we tune our machines and craft the noise of our cities into desirable, harmonic forms. Exactly who would get to define what ‘harmony’ is remains unstated. One logical conclusion of the World Soundscape Project is that (i)ndustrial noises would be scrubbed from the city, for instance, and a nostalgic calm would be infused in its place. Think church bells, not automobiles. But where would such sensory cleansing leave those of us who en-

joy the sounds of factories...?40

The task of sonic archiving, like that of sonic design, must confront the limitations of a consensus on what an environment should sound like, or what is valued as sound and what is widely disregarded as ‘noise’. The science-fiction writer J.G. Ballard also offers a means of considering the sonic landscape as a complete entity to be tuned. Consider Ballard’s short story “The Soundsweep”: The central character, Halloway, dissatisfied with what he sees as the dulling of the imagination in Garden City, with its organic conformity, makes his way back to the abandoned New York, where he attempts to restart the metropolis and its power supplies. Significantly, it is the noise of the city that he misses and that he is inescapably drawn to...52

The task of sonic archiving is about selecting significant sounds, and bringing them back to life. What I would like to trace are these divergent attitudes of environmental sound: the elimination, the celebration, and the refinement.

The Elimination of Sound Few on Guam, the underground jet sound cult aside, would wish the jet sound to return. In fact, now that they have a taste of a soundscape free of military sounds, activist groups are organizing to secure more silence. The next big target is the civilian airport, and it’s unclear just where these silenceseekers will stop. What is the value of a landscape devoid of the jet noise barrier in 2023

the sounds which make it unique?

This phenomenon is not by any means limited to

es and ought to be fought for, they threaten to become hege-

Guam. There are ongoing movements traced back to early

monies of silence. In order to produce zones in the “absence

20th century New York City which argue for the production of

of human-caused sound” the soundmark of adjacent sound-

silent zones and the mitigation of environmental noise. The

scapes could be adversely affected.

city which invented density also invented the decibel. Trucks would patrol the city and measure the amount of noise in relative terms. A century later, International Noise Awareness 43

Day, April 28, would be marked by the Center for Hearing and Communication offering free hearing tests from a roving truck. Amy Boyle, Director of Public Education at the Center for the Hard of Hearing said “It is time that we take responsibility to quiet our surroundings and create a healthy environment for us and our children.”44 The search for silence is not limited to the city. Sound Tracker Gordon Hempton surveyed the American landscape

The Celebration of Sounds Jet sound is awesome, in the deepest sense of the word. It is inevitable that jet sound leaves a residue because the hollow form of the jet noise barrier is capable of reproducing the lowest frequencies that we find manifest in jet sound. It gave birth to this structure which, now through its hollow tubes, can be tuned to produce resonances similar in frequency to the most powerful and pervasive jet sounds. To gape in awe at jet sound, however, is to risk aestheti-

for the quietest zones, the areas of peace.45 Hempton asked if it were possible to produce a single square inch of silence, and what it would take to maintain that zone of silence. In 2005, Hempton’s group established a one-square-inch-zone in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, Washington. In establishing the guiding principles for the site, the group points to Chapter 4.9 of the National Park Service Management Policy on Soundscape Management: The National Park Service will preserve, to the greatest extent possible, the natural soundscapes of parks. Natural soundscapes exist in the absence of human-caused sound.The Service will restore degraded soundscapes to the natural condition wherever possible, and will protect natural soundscapes from degradation due to noise (undesirable human-caused sound).46

While these sanctuaries of silence are valuable resourc-

the jet noise barrier post-military, c. 2035

cizing the war machine. Italian Futurists did just that prior to

have failed in this regard. The source of jet sound is pinpoint-

WWI as a critique of an aesthetic culture that neglected the

ed at the moment that an F-35 jet switches on the engines, at

transformative power—and for those sonically-inclined, the

the beginning of the runway. This map is based upon a sin-

transformative noises—embedded in machines of progress.

gle-event measurement of 135.5 dB at 30 m distance.47 The

The founder of the movement, Tomasso Marinetti, famously

military also considered the flight paths and A-weighted dB

poeticized the sound of artillery testing in Zang-Tumb-Tumb:

readings of a general pattern of use in order to place the jet

Every 5 seconds siege cannons gutting space with a chord ZANG-TUMB-TUUUMB mutiny of 500 echoes smashing scattering it to infinity. In the center of this hateful ZANG-TUMB-TUUUMB area 50 square kilometers leaping bursts lacerations fists rapid fire batteries. Violence ferocity regularity this deep bass scanning the strange shrill frantic crowds of the battle Fury breathless ears eyes nostrils open!41

noise barrier and size it properly. According to noise studies within the Environmental Impact Report, residents living at a distance greater than 400 meters from the barrier would still experience a nearly identical volume if the jet noise barrier wasn’t even there. If the barrier failed to perform in this way, what could it be said to have accomplished? The only conceivable answer is that the accomplishment was indirect; the jet

Let us dwell on the final phrase “ears eyes nostrils open!” The sounds of war, Marinetti exclaims, force a merging of all of these senses into a profoundly loud total experience, a synaesthesia of war.

noise barrier functioned as deception.

To refine noise is certainly an act of deception. Noise

refinement is making signals out of the background. We have a military precedent, as it is widely known in military acad-

If Marinetti valued the sounds of war for their ability to

emies from the Chinese scholar Sun Tzu that war is deception.

merge the senses, the critic of media Marshall McLuhan saw

During WWII, the 3132 Signal Service Company Special was

new electronic forms of media as inducing a similar synes-

formed to produce the effect of a large army.

thetic experience: Primitive and pre-alphabet people integrate time and space as one and live in an acoustic, horizonless, boundless, olfactory space, rather than in visual space. Their graphic presentation is like an x-ray.… Electric circuitry is recreating in us the multi-dimensional space orientation of the ‘primitive’42

The Refinement of Sounds

With the help of engineers from Bell Labs, a team from the 3132 went to Fort Knox to record sounds of armored and infantry units onto a series of sound effects records that they brought to Europe. For each deception, sounds could be “mixed” to match the scenario they wanted the enemy to believe. This program was recorded on stateof-the-art wire recorders (the predecessor to the tape recorder), and then played back with powerful amplifiers and speakers mounted on halftracks. The sounds they played could be heard 15 miles (24 km) away.48

While the military went through great pains to produce

The sounds of an army moving, training, etc.—what

a barrier that would suppress noise, it is widely believed to

might be called noise in another context—constitutes in this

case a refinement, when mixed in a certain way, which proj-

the subject in the space.”49 Registering a soundscape depends

ects a false signal to the enemy.

on peripheral readings and the immersion of the listener in

The sonic archive contains artefacts of sonic deception. Among them are paper scrolls which contain jet sound music scores that feed into a small music box. These were produced by refining noise into signals with the aid of computer scripting tools. The music box, through its nostalgic and thin timbres mask the harsh, full spectrum of the jet sound. Jet sound—grouped with noise in general—has the distinct quality of being able to mask other sounds within the signal. The music box loses that quality of noise by being limited to 13 clear tones. However, depending on the refinement mechanism, certain signals within the noise spectrum may be amplified.

the landscape. Referring to McLuhan, it is a primitive notion.

The Un-cancelling of Sounds What is the soundmark of Echo Red? Or put another way, what is worth preserving here? It is clear that jet sound defined this landscape for such a prolonged period that its mark should remain in the landscape. An era prior to the noise of military machines predates World War II. The Navy inadvertently became the first sonic archivalist on Guam. In the 1960s, Russian trawlers were spying on the airspace around Guam to observe the activity of B-52s en route to napalmbombing runs in Vietnam. The US Navy wanted to jam the communications from these ships, but they needed to locate

Another kind of sonic deception has to do with envi-

ronmental sound. The archive contains models for an intervention on Guam at a much larger scale, whereby environmental sounds can be manipulated. I am interested in the notion of an audio horizon - the moment at which distant sounds can barely be heard, and then disappear. The horizon ultimately defines our concept of landscape; it delineates the inhabitable surface of the earth. But horizon is always thought of as an optical phenomenon. What, then, of our sense of sound, which has arguably more to do with notions of defensibility and territory? The deception of the horizon also relates to peripheral vision. The Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa states that “the quality of an architectural reality seems to depend fundamentally on the nature of peripheral vision, which enfolds

the park service transformation

them first. The ships were invisible to radar, but the actual sounds of the ships could be detected. The problem with listening for the ships was partly in the background sound that the listeners had to overcome, the sound of the jungle on Guam. Thus the Navy recorded the sounds of the Guamanian jungle, including native birds, to run as ‘noise’ cancellation, playing the bird sounds out of phase with the actual sounds in order to hear the ships and jam their signals. When the Cold War ended, the Navy listening post and the land at Ritidian Point became a Federal Wildlife Preserve, and the sound recordings were donated to the FWP’s visitor center.50 The remarkable thing is that some of these birds are extinct and/or can’t be found in the wild. In this effort, unwittingly, the Navy preserved the soundscape of a jungle that can never be reproduced. This soundscape can live as a virtual jungle, intersecting with the sounds of the real jungle as one moves from the artificial spaces of the visitor center to the actual spaces of Echo Red.

base, augmented by sonic deception.

The Archive in between Real & Virtual To archive and therefore preserve sound, the act of recording is not enough. Sound recordings are limited by a single listener’s perception of the soundscape, tracked over a linear stretch of time. Furthermore, recording is conditioned both by the technology which records and the technology of playback. To archive a sound is to consider the future means for listening before the act of recording takes place. Sonic archiving, therefore, is a practice which spans between the real and the virtual. One must first listen and identify the soundmark in real space. Next one conditions the act of listening by introducing a mediating apparatus, usually some kind of microphone. Here the real recedes into the virtual. The critical act in sonic archiving, however, is the means of playback. The virtual now reaches out into the real and reproduces the soundmark of the original place. The parameters

As the jet noise barrier grew and birds became established, the military continued their manipulation of bird sound by emulating the practices of Swiftlet farmers in Malaysia. These farmers would record the sounds of the Swiftlet birds and play them in vacant buildings. Swiftlet birds would 51

be attracted by the sounds and enter the buildings in order to mate and build a nest. The nests would then be harvested. The military, however, instead of harvesting nests, played Swiftlet sounds on loudspeakers and so amplified the habitat within the barrier. This is how the military survived as long as it did: the artificial bolstering of a bird habitat on the edge of the

are manifold: in what space, through which transducers, in what kind of atmosphere, time, and season will this recorded sound be played? The ‘aura’ of the original is diminished by the technologies of recording and amplifying. When we record sound, we must consider that the recording is an altered state; the process of ruination has already set in. The perception of an environmental sound as ruin thus sets in motion the work of the sonic archivist.

11. sounding

{Rumbles Roars Explosions Crashes Splashes Booms Whistles Hisses Snorts Whispers Murmurs Mumbles Grumbles Gurgles Screeches Creaks Rumbles Buzzes Crackles Scrapes Shouts Screams Groans Shrieks Howls Laughs WHeezes Sobs}

Isn’t it funny that sound is movement. Yet: you must sit in a chair and stare at a screen, headphones on, in order to work a piece of sound. The movement must be virtual. That is drawing, then? Moving through a building while standing still. Or is that simulation? In this late night delirium (I am hungry--stay hungry, fingers shaking) I thought that line above read: “in order to eat a piece of sound”

first, to harnass sound. what is it. how does it behave when captured?

next, to play back the sound. sounding is playing.




a sound can only be simulated

in a space

the sound cannon changed everything

air is the new frontier of form; the transducer gives form to air.

what is noise to the old order is harmony to the new.

12. the archaeologist

hollow jet noise barrier built by the military to buffer the air force base from the community outside. The buffer is not a noman’s land. It is an inhabited, thickened edge. I am standing at the edge of a precipice. From below the dense jungle of new growth rainforest sweeps away toward the horizon, where the island of Guam ends and the ocean begins. The rainforest is consuming the remains of Andersen Air Force Base, once part of a global network of United States military bases. It has been fifteen years since the last C-130 Hercules lifted off the tarmac in a scene reminiscent of the last chopper lifting off the roof of the US Embassy in fallen Saigon. The military was ultimately driven out by the indepentistas and environmental activists, who protested the military’s parabolic increase in production of noise, found to be detrimental to the health of the base’s neighbors and a danger to the wildlife habitat at the base edge. These sonic activists employed

This artificial ridge straddles two worlds: the wild interior of the former military base and the more subdued exterior, fiercely retaining its identity throughout the military occupation. Even during their occupation, large sections of the military bases were left to the wild, in stark contrast to the crew-cut groomed grass of the housing and operational areas of the base. The former bases are now mostly under control of the National Park Service, though much is still off-limits. Unexploded ordnance on former firing ranges, designated habitat restoration zones, and unstable terrain all contribute to a non-uniform, heavily striated space that is difficult to reclaim.

Reterritorialization of the Edge

the same tools and technology that military engineers used to

Typical of post-military space, it is a lengthy process to

design the structure: decibel meters and acoustic modeling

restore the land for future use. The Commonwealth of Puerto

software. The comprehensive sound maps provided the legal

Rico, linked to Guam as both were US acquisitions from the

evidence necessary to uproot the military base. This story of

Spanish-American War, is another island studied by military

repurposing the military’s own tools to reclaim military spac-

scholars as a seminal example of post-military transition. In

es replays itself many times over.

the city of San Juan, a former army housing area was returned

I can see the abandoned runway of the former Air Force base a kilometer in the distance, reflecting the subtropical sun through patches of forest. Behind me and down the sloping grassland lies the Guahan community of Yigo, nestled in the limestone forest and looking much the same as it did forty or even eighty years ago, when the ridge I am standing on didn’t exist. This is a man-made ridge that I have climbed, above a

to the Commonwealth in the 1960s. After several failed social experiments including its use as a mental health hospital, the land fell vacant. 2 The karst forest over several decades has rendered the houses and streets into a post-apocalyptic scene. The decay of military space continues to this day and will be maintained thanks to a watchful group of botanists and preservationists who steward the land. Remnants of the housing area in the form of porcelain toilets, concrete block walls, and

the gridded layout of streets bear witness to the military oc-

buying the necessary time to ensure that it is suitable for visi-

cupation. (see It is a fine place for a picnic, which also points

tation. Only limited pockets of the jungle-limestone forest

to a trend of domestication in post-military space. 3 This neu-

carpet can be visited.

tralization of post-military space runs counter to more radical reclamations which I will posit later.

My archaeological undertaking, however, is neither the interior of the base nor its exterior; it is the edge itself.

Other sites in Puerto Rico have not met such a happy

I have studied the edges of military bases across three conti-

transition. The adjacent island of Vieques was used by the

nents, specializing in the military archaeology of fence edges

Navy as a bombing range and, when released back to civilian

of island-bases, including the Azores, Okinawa, Crete, Puerto

control, was found to be a volatile and unusable piece of land

Rico, the Philippines, and Hawaii.5 The spaces between civil-


with unexploded ordnance and radioactive contamination.

ian development and the military base, such as the strips of

Still, the Department of the Interior converted the land into

land immediately outside Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa,

the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, thereby absolving the

are zones of latent opportunity. It is the space of push-and-

military of full clean-up obligations. The land is touted by lo-

pull, a deterritorialized strip, and a threshold of negotiation

cal hotels as pristine wilderness offering idyllic views, while

between the military and civilian worlds. This negotiation re-

the truth lies embedded in the soil.

veals a paradox of military space, via Deleuze and Guattari: “It

A similar transfer has occurred on Guam. The land was transferred in sync with the military pullout and unceremoniously named Base Edge National Reserve. The US Department of the Interior is content to keep the land under wraps,


is always on the most deterritorialized element reterritorialization takes place.�6 It is at the edges the adjacent community exhibits their desires, whether in the form of active protest or farming. These social practices at the most intimate scale mark the erosion of a colossal institution.

The history of the former jet noise barrier on Guam reveals a process of erosion at an intimate scale as well. This erosion began long before the sudden departure of the military. Some evidence includes relics from the protests, including banners that were tied to the trees growing on top of the berm pleading “This is my Island” or “No More Bases.” These voices echo the anti-bases movement, spanning the globe in tandem with the global reach of the US Military, from Viet-

of heroism and unpack the myths which insulate these landscapes. We must reconcile the gaze of the neutering touristaesthete, enabled by the Park Service, with that of the military-archaeologist, whose task is to expose the political cost made physical by the militarization of landscapes. A military landscape is riddled with social debts. These residues of an

nam to Vicenza.

unjust landscape, these monuments to inequality, are perhaps

Pacific Military Archaeology

nuclear history of the Pacific.


best exemplified by the military archaeologists examining the

Tourists of military landscapes have a tendency to ro-

Consider the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. From

manticize the ruin, to admire the colossal war machine re-

June 30, 1946, to August 18, 1958, the United States conduct-

gardless of its ethical history, and to stare wide-eyed at the

ed 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands. The detonation of

beauty of entropy. I follow from a lineage of the ‘militourists’

Bravo on March 1st, 1954, was 1,300 times the strength of Hi-

of Gettysburg, Sarajevo, and Kuwait, searching for the “ex-

roshima. The bomb was designed to produce lethal fallout, de-

treme, which is bound together with a fascination for hero-

positing one and a half inches of a pale powder formed when

ism.”8 While it is the military and its concomitant production

Bikini’s coral reef “melted in the intense heat of the bomb

of war-landscapes which draws the gaze and awe of the tour-

and was sucked up and scattered for miles.”9 Islanders on the

ist, the military archaeologist can undermine the false sense

neighboring Rongelap atoll are estimated to have received



175 rem of radiation, 350 times the maximum recommended

Guam, both in the material sense of ruins and the social prac-

dose in a year. What impact did nuclear testing have on the

tices which occur in, around, and because of ruin.

particular climate and ecosystem of the Bikini Atoll? Populations were displaced prior to the bombing and afterwards. The United States left behind a radiological legacy that is very hard to be proud of. ‘Downwinders’ are still seeking reparations for health effects from the fallout clouds. There is a tremendous cost to the entire Pacific Proving Ground which is still being ascertained and paid for today by civilians living in the detritus of militarization. Challenging an ‘imperial’ notion of ruin which focuses on its material outcomes, Ann Stoler provides a piercing reconsideration of what is a ruin, turning instead to

The Territorial Frame A proper study of archaeology on this subject would continue to unearth evidence of social ruination and methodically examine its impact on the present, but we must be honest here—this is not at attempt at a full archaeologist’s report. I am merely introducing the frame of reference which establishes the connective tissue between the reports which follow. Each territorial layer is inscribed by a geographical frame—the military base edge of the former Andersen Air Base. The edge itself, a thickened band or buffer zone, ranges

the aftershocks of empire, to the material and social afterlife of structures, sensibilities, and things. Such effects reside in the corroded hollows of landscapes, in the gutted infrastructures of segregated cityscapes and in the microecologies of matter and mind. The focus then is not on inert remains but on their vital refiguration.10

from 200 to 800 feet in width, with a length meandering over

It is precisely this ‘refiguration’ which is sought on

built up by the will to exclude the former, and yet it does not

fifteen miles. The zone is easily depicted as a line when observing the island as a whole; zooming in on that line reveals a fuzzy pair of boundaries. The civilian edge is built up by the economic opportunity of the interior. The military edge is


fully succeed. Here in this long, narrow zone, the landscape

trace. Sound is the most difficult of these material and en-

becomes one of multiple exchanges.

ergy exchanges for the archaeologist to observe in the field.

At the most basic level of exchange, geologic transformation occurs through limestone growth and collapse. The geologic exchange ignores the boundaries set out by military occupation. Further blurring the base edge, a layer of landscape, both manmade and not-manmade, is a tool for deliberate screening—a camouflaged buffer zone. Dispersed within the layer of landscape is a world of bird life, occupying the voids produced through geologic action. The habitat is also found throughout the forests, growing and shrinking as a result of political exchanges between conservation groups and military authorities. The absence of military authority gives rise to another territorial layer: the layer of collapse. Here the base edge heaves, crumbles, and forms an expanded, manmade geologic feature. The final and most pervasive layer is that of sound. Sound, like atmosphere, transverses the boundaries of the zone with the greatest freedom and disappears with littlest

Indeed, the only legitimate observations of sound are those made of live sound, a kind of instant archaeology. Archives of recorded sound thus become crucial terrain for measuring historical change through sound. And as this all is not a lesson in archaeology but rather a lesson in architecture, the means of sound propagation, recording, and reproduction are the essential tools for documenting the jet noise barrier. The development of this new media makes a new kind of architecture possible.

I am surrounded by scraps of hardboard, by the refused study models of the semester, by speaker cables knives steel nuts cornstarch forks acrlyic dirty coffee presses wood glue nalgene bottles strips of masking tape blank DVDs slides lists of things to do... I must excavate myself out of this clusterfuck.

13. performing



DETAILS buried in the desk apparatus


the BASS CANNON BUILT DAYS BEFORE THE PERFORMANCE. You wouldn’t build the violin and hand it to the violinist on the day of the symphony grand premiere.

Ndm: if you were an architect you would! that’s why architects are not violin-makers.


to take a walk instead of sit and talk,

where TO does not matter:



Looking back over my notebooks and snippets of text written on my laptop during that period of time in early 2010, I found something written at a particular point of exhaustion: It is three twelve in the morning, some morning, it doesn’t really matter what morning, or that it is morning, or that it is three plus some arbitrary zero and twelve plus some arbitrary zero. Zero is always arbitrary... It is raining outside, a breeze blowing through an open window says to my skin. I lie here on the papasan chair, headphones on but no sound is coming through. There is an infinite space backwards which I look forward to excavating, continuously. It was at this moment, listening to a sound clip I produced titled jet_first_200_notch on a repeat loop, that I fell asleep, laptop in my lap, rain still falling, all things returning. The excavation has begun.

1 Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix. Nomadology: The War Machine. p. 64 2 “Historial del Terreno” bosquesanpatricio.org


3 On p. 375 Joseph Masco discusses Operation Cue, a mock-suburb built to be destroyed at the Nevada Proving Ground: “The destruction of a model American community thus became the occasion of a giant picnic.” 4 Arbona, Javier “Vieques, Puerto Rico: From Devastation to Conservation and Back Again.” 5 refer to previous work on the Azores and Okinawa, John K. Branner traveling fellowship 2009 6 Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus 7 Lutz, Catherine, Ed. The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against U.S. Military Posts. 8 Diller + Scofidio. Tourisms of War. p. 24 9 Dibblin, Jane. A Day of Two Suns. p. 105 10 Stoler, Ann. “Imperial Debris.” p. 194 11 Refer to Appendix A 12 Gingerich, Stephen B. Water-Resources Investigation Report 03-4126. U.S. Geological Survey. 13 Mylroie, John E. “Karst Features of Guam in Terms of a General Model of Carbonate Island Karst.” 14 Taboroi, D.; Jenson, J. W. and Mylroie, J. E. “Zones of enhanced dissolution and associated cave morphology in an uplifted carbonate island karst aquifer, northern Guam, Mariana Islands” 15 Personal travels, 2009 John K. Branner fellowship. 16 Taboroi, D.; Jenson, J. W. and Mylroie, J. E. p. 9 17 Winter, F.E. Greek Town Planning 18 Niccolo Machiavelli The Art of War p.151 19 Machiavelli is writing at a junction in military engineering when artillery and mines have rendered natural hill-top fortifications indefensible; thus, he promotes artifice in the success of fortifications. 20 Ibid. p.55 21 Ibid. 22 In “Built to Destroy,” the thesis of Enrique Ramirez, the

entanglement of architects, war, and the American West is explored though more through the lens of architectural type than of landscape. 23 Refer to Appendix A for the UN Convention on the Demilitarization of Foreign Bases 24 Bergen, William. Personal Interview. 20 May 2009. 25 Moore, Charles, Ed. “The McMillan Report: The Improvement of the Park System of the District of Columbia.” Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902. 26 De La Croix p.24 27 Fowler, David. “Forensic Engineering.” 28 Charles M. Salter Assoc. Acoustics: architecture, engineering, the environment. 29 Arch magazine Grimshaw 30 Dana Buntrock email Re: Japanese land retention 16 Jan 2010 31 Hance, Jeremy. “Korean demilitarized zone has become pristine wildlife habitat” 32 The “Dazzle Ships” were developed by the artist Norman Wilkinson 33 Breckenridge p. 68 34 Ibid. 35 “Who is Encroaching Upon Who?” www.cpeo.org. Center for Public Environmental Oversight, n.d. Web. 09 May 2010. 36 Lachman, Beth E.; Wong, Anny; Resetar, Susan A. The Thin Green Line. p.1 37 Allen, Stan. “Artificial Ecologies.” p. 87 38 Information learned while visiting a former housing area and discussing its past with the Public Affairs Officer. September 22, 2009. 39 Schafer, R. Murray. Tuning of the World. p. 10 40 Manaugh, Geoff. “Audio Architecture.” 41 Marinetti, Tomasso. Zang-Tumb-Tumb 42 McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium is the Massage: an inventory of effects. 43 Thompsen, Emily. The Soundscape of Modernity 44 “Hear for the Future” chchearing.org. Center for Hearing and Communication, 28 Apr. 2010. Web. 08 May 2010.

45 For further research consult One Square Inch of Silence and Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence 46 “What is One Square Inch?” <http://onesquareinch.org/ about/>. onesquareinch.org, n.d. Web. 10 May 2010. 47 I consulted the software “SEL CALC” for jet sound data. 48 “Ghost Army.” Wikipedia.org. Wikipedia, n.d. Web. 8 May 2010. 49 Pallasmaa, Juhani. “Touching the World – architecture, hapticity, and the emancipation of the eye” 50

Stiers, Raymond. Personal Interview. 19 Jan 2010.




Sellars, Simon. Ballardian. www.ballardian.com

Diller + Scofidio. Back to the Front: Toursims of War. France: F.R.A.C. Basse-Normandie, 1994 Dibblin, Jane. A Day of Two Suns. New York: New Amsterdam Books, 1988. Finoki, Bryan. “The Ruin Machine.” Wherearewenow.org. Autumn 09 Issue 02. Web. 12 Jan 2010.


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