Mediating grounds between the ´smooth´ and ´striated´

De Casiopea

TítuloMediating grounds between the ´smooth´ and ´striated´
AsignaturaPoética de las Aguas
CarrerasNáutico y Marítimo


The primary intention of this document is to discuss concepts of how societies produce landscapes and structures determining individual space. It attempts to understand the transformation of geographical landscape(experiential and spatial) and how it creates and blurs boundaries, making and unmaking of territories and finally reflecting upon the voyage – a quest to seek identity, to unite experiences in search of meaning. The purpose is not to produce an analytical model, but to carry out a more general discussion to formulate an understanding of socio-architectural interplay based on observations that constitute the body of this document. The narrative is reassessed in light of the spatial/political theory of Deleuze and Guatarri, namely smooth and striated space and others as referenced. To draw an outline; in Chapter 14, “1440: The Smooth and the Striated” in A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, by G. Deleuze and F. Guattari (1987, U Minn P, Minneapolis), the authors discuss a comparative layout in which the ‘ Maritime model ‘ is presented in a tabular form(page 5). The table in this document is a visual explanation of the voyage and recurrent themes in the context of the our work titled ‘Providing ‘Critical Infrastructure ’ for Construction and Cultivation in Western Patagonia: A Floating Workshop for the Interior Seas of Region X’, e(ad) PUCV

1. Description of a voyage : delta to desert

Plate 1

1.a The new desert landscape – an expersson of power vs inhabiting the interior seas

Plate 2

2. The first drawing of the Amerida: constructing smooth space within the striated

Discussion 1

Plate 3

Plate 4

2. The first drawing of the Amerida: constructing smooth space within the striated

Discussion 2

DIscussion 3

Plate 5


1. Description of a voyage : delta to desert

Sailing upstream to the Colombian highlands in the Amazon and moving further south on land one finds the Atacama desert –a ´place´ constrained by acute scarcity of water, the oldest hyper arid zone in the world, a region exposed to the maximum direct solar radiation and to the most extreme and unexpected weather conditions, equips one with a set of observations to reflect upon. The landscape(s) renders itself into a collage of events in space-time; a temporal dialogue between the seemingly opposite geographical landscapes evoking a very strong sense of spatial interplay- A fusion in parts and a collective memory of spatial anticipation.

The Amazonian memory of the humid aquatic existance is gradually transformed into an arid expanse of Atacama. The changing of geo-climatic landscape invents its own complexity in spatial reading. The abundance of water is not just contrasted with the desert but is read as simultaneous translations, translations of events.

“In the first case, one organizes even the desert; in the second the desert gains and grows; and the two can happen simultaneously. But the de facto mixes do not preclude a de jure, or abstract, distinction between the two spaces. That there is such a distinction is what accounts for the fact that the two spaces do not communicate with each other in the same way: it is the de jure distinction that determines the forms assumed by a given de facto mix and the direction or meaning of the mix (is a smooth space captured, enveloped by a stirated space or does a stirated space dissolve into a smooth space, allow a smooth space to develop?)”

(D&G 474)

This is equally valid for the sea or the mighty river changing it’s course.(refer to the tabular form of maritime model ,D&G in page 7 & discussion 1, page 5 of this document)

     03612632155.jpg  03612632155a.jpg

Estuary Mantagua -smooth within the striated (top), unknown port town in rio Negra , Amazonia Brazil -man and his optical relation to space (bottom left );different kinds of vessels in Rio Negra , Amazonia, Brazil

             03612632155c.jpgExistential geology

“....................Robert Smithson’s legendary fascination with geology and industrial alterations on the earths surface by bulldozers exemplifies this tradition, where he insisted in the necessary dialectic between mining and land reclamation. According to him, the Artist and the miner must become conscious of themselves as natural agents, art becoming a physical resource mediating between the ecologist and the industrialist .When the miner looses consciousness of what he is doing, Smithson explains , he cannot cope with his own inherent nature or external nature.His 1971’s wandering canal with Moulds, or his own interest in Robert Morris’s proposal for for an Earth Mound exemplify his understanding of the potential of using vast portions of land material support for his sculpture”

(extract from: DESERTA, Pedro Alonso CANCHA, Venice Biennale Entry)

Key phrases :

Fabrication of topographies: Robert Smithsons illustrations on geology and industrial alterations on earths surface. The art of introducing intervals in a territory in order to construct frames of probability Bernard Cache, Earth Moves: The furnishing of Territories(Cambridge Mass:The MIT Press, 1995), p .2

As the desert imposes its constraints for human inhabitation and livelihood one finds an element of investigation to extract available resources for human use, hence a productuve landscape, a landscape constantly being shaped and altered. The nomadic settlements ouside the major desert towns gather resources from a seasonal stream of water and cultivate the arid land in the northern part of Atacama. This creates a man made environment conducive to agriculture and cattle farming very different from the Amazonian cattle farmers. The degree to which a cattle farmer exposes his heard is introverted to the extent of harvesting fresh wáter from the condensed fog.

In a very similar context one finds the gold ore extractor in the Amazon basin around rio Madera constantly engaged in changing the bathemetric profile of the river, gradually contributing to a new course or irregular flooding in the monsoon. The villages in this particular strech of the river, infact the total length of the river is engaged in a very different kind of ‘interaction’ . An interaction that necessitates a particular practice to evolve over time and develop its own tools to thrive. The ‘dragas’ or artesanal dredgers found in this region redefine the riverine landscape and employ a very different occupation with the river. Thus there is a ‘desert logic ‘ , a ‘river logic ‘ in confrontation to a ‘state logic’ or a ‘ plan of action ‘ to prevent flood or other forms of natural disasters.

The mining industry in the Atacama continually mediates the smooth and the striated, as do the artisanal ‘dragas’ or a salmon farm in the archipelegos in the South of Chile, but these transformations, irrespective of scale, impact and appeal develop their own resistance to contain the essence of the ‘interaction’.

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space , In expalining ‘diversion’ (detournement) states:

“An existing space may outlive its original purpose and the 'raison d’etre' which determines its forms, functions, and structures; it may thus in a sense become vacant, and susceptible of being diverted, reappropriated and put to a use quite different from its initial one.”

This can be also seen in the context of how the mining towns in Atacama have completely transformed the geophysical landscape, and to a certain extent can be argued as artefacts constantly being shaped by human activity.

                        =        Discussion 1:      =

Lewis Carrol’s The hunting of the shark – An Agony in 8 Fits and the maritime model of D&G:

In the Maritime Model, D&G write that smooth space is,

“a space of affects, more than one of properties. It is haptic rather than optical perception. Whereas in the striated forms organize a matter, in the smooth materials signal forces and serve as symptoms for them. It is an intensive rather than extensive space, one of distances, not of measures and properties.”

(Deleuze and Guittari, 479).

Carrol’s map serves as a heuristic device (but never a representation) for the process whereby

“the two spaces in fact exist only in mixture: smooth space is constantly being translated, transversed into a striated space; striated space is constantly being reversed, returned to a smooth space”


The perimeter of the map is occupied by the striated logos of the compass points, which surround an otherwise blank, or smooth, page. The compass points can be drawn and organized, while the blank space of nomos remains non-representable, expressing the smooth space of the ocean.

The date, 1440, ascribed to smooth and striated spaces, is developed within “The Maritime Model” in which late Medieval/early Renaissance seafaring technology changed the way sailors navigated the seas.

“For the sea is a smooth space par excellence, and yet was the first to encounter the demands of increasingly strict striation”


Bearings and maps with intertwining latitudes and longitudes creating a metric and homogeneous grid striated the formerly smooth space of the forces of sonorous and tactile intensities of noise and winds as forces of magnitude.

If the sea was increasingly demarcated by the sky above and its derivative measurements, the developments of commercial cities, especially by the State, soon followed suit, acting as a territorializing force. The stasis of dwelling, of architecture, becomes crucial, while smooth space in turn changes the dynamics such that

“The dwelling is subordinated to the journey”


D&G continue,

“In contrast to the sea, the city is the striated space par excellence; the sea is a smooth space fundamentally open to striation, and the city is the force of striation that reimparts smooth space, puts it back into operation everywhere, on earth and in the other elements, outside but also inside itself”


The city accomplishes this re-smoothing by developing points of tension and intensity, through sprawl and disjunction. Temporal and spatial movement are defining qualities of the smooth and the striated. Striation allows for a certain predictability and workability within space, while smooth space operates via speed differentials, delays, accelerations, (dis)(re)orientation, variations and so on. Movement here also operates via thinking and the images of thought created through the striated and the smooth.

“To think is to voyage”


but this movement in conscious experience is not to be conflated with dreams and hallucinations.

D&G employ other models, including the technological model in which striated fabric weaving, especially as used by Plato as a metaphor for the State apparatus, is contrasted with felt as a smooth “anti-fabric”, a heterogeneous “entanglement of fibers.” The role of the material object is as important here as the process by which it is created.

“For Deleuze, events never happen out of a tabula rasa, but come out of complications, out of the fold; and time occupies a ‘complicated’ rather than a linear or circular space: it lies at the intersection of multiple lines that can never be disentangled in a single transparent plane given to a fixed external eye.”

(Rajchman, 62)

“intensive organizations continually invite external influences within their internal limits so that they might extend their influence through the affiliations they make.”

(Lynn, 10)


              03612632155d.jpg The Maritime model of Deleuze and Guatarri in tabular form(left)smoot vs striated to enlarge

Space of affects vs Space of properties

Haptic perception vs Optic Perception

Occupied by intensities: wind, noise, forces, sonorous and tactile qualities. Ex. Desert, steppe, ice.


Canopied by sky which serves as measure

Nomadic navigation based on wind, noise, color and sound of water


Bearings and the map: stars, sun, latitude, longitude , meridians and parallels.


                     03612632155e.jpgCarrol’s map serves as a heuristic device (left)

Sea currents, Map (right)



(1).exhibition catalogue , Architecture without Architects , the modest two page spread dedicated to nomadic architecture , Bernard Rudofsky

(2). Dragas, Gold dredgers of Rio Madeira, Brazil : 5000 such vessels, of varying sizes could be found between Porto Velho (the capital of Brazilian State of Rondônia) and the Bolivian border - this mining method is also used in Bolivia, though no statistics were provided for Boliva. Today, a dredge typically mines between 30 and 70 grams of gold per day, consuming 10 lt of diesel oil per hour. Carrying 10k lt and staying on a spot for over a month. The bigger dredges are towed to a spot by a dedicated tow boat, while I have observed the smaller ones towed by canoes. The boats constitute small enterprises, owned by the miners and tipically a crew of four or five.

(3) Mark Twain began writing Life on the Mississippi in 1879, the same year that Congress consolidated these various efforts into the Lower Mississippi River Basin Commission and granted the Army Corps of Engineers full authority over flood control strategy and construction. Twain commented:

"Ten thousand River Commissions, with the mines of the world at their back cannot tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or confine it, cannot say to it, ‘Go here,’ or ‘Go there,’ and make it obey; but a discreet man will not put these things into spoken words; for the West Point engineers have not their superiors anywhere; they know all that can be known of their abstruse science; and so since they conceive that they can fetter and handcuff that river and boss him, it is but wisdom for the unscientific man to keep still, lie low, and wait till they do it"

(Twain, 1951, 156; Andrew Bookes, Channelized Rivers: Perspectives for Environmental Management(New York:Wiley, 1988), 18. As cited in Mathur/da Cunha. Illustrations courtesy Anaradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha)

(4) River Map of tha Amazon River Basin source: WWF

2. The first drawing of the Amereida: constructing smooth space within the striated

Deleuze and Guattari distinguish between striated space and smooth space as two different products coexisting, and dialectically related sorts of agency, that reflect two different modes of spatialisation or attitudes towards space, two complimentary logics of space production, or two complementary systems of forces and counter-forces: Striated space as the deterritorialisation produced by the State apparatus, and smooth space as the counteract of re-territorialisation produced by individual nomadic thought and practice.

The Line drawing of the first journey of poets, artists architects and designers across America from Punta Areanas to Santa Cruz marks the very fundamental basis of a travesia-to cross(crossing), a journey(voyage) without a specific reason or destination because it is in the travel one unfolds his learnings, though , discoveries and observations and hence the discovery of people,places and practices. The drawing, being unique and bold, becomes expression of power. In the poem Amereida the drawing marks a significant shift in poetic formulation. In nautical terms ´The first spanish and Portuguese ships of the Enterprise to the Indes crossed the equator and, in so doing, lost the pole star, that guided thier travels and discovered four stars in the shape of a cross – the pole of the other heavens,´The Amereida superimposes on the south American continent to guide the travesias through the interior sea of America – defining the irregular geographic formations heading north to the poetic capital of Santa Cruz. The journey is a two-fold exploration, and it nessiciates a tactile reading of the environment and a haptic experience of the ínterior sea, as one senses the urge of ´poetic marking´guided by the cifra(plotted figures guided by the sky). It is, as such, a physical as well as a mental crossing, in terms of language, which in a travesia connects the subject to the object -´Latin American man to the perception of his physical and cultural heritage – through the mind , whereas the body in the travesia reconnects the subject to the object –Latin American man to the South American continent-experientially, in action.´

                           =        Discussion 2 :      =

For Heidegger space is that which is extended from a location — a location is only such that it belongs to dwelling—therefore space includes a relation to man. He writes,

“Spaces open up by the fact that they are let into the dwelling of man. To say that mortals are is to say that in dwelling they persist through spaces by virtue of their stay among things and locations.”

He writes as example,

“When I go toward the door of the lecture hall, I am already there, and I could not go to it at all if I were not such that I am there.”

(Heidegger, 107)

The door in this case is a location tied to man, both extensions of each other, optically derived, and the spatial connection between the two is without measurement, quantifiable properties or distance. It is smooth space. Heidegger writes,

“Nearness and remoteness between men and things can become mere distance, mere intervals of intervening space. In a space that is represented purely as spatium, the bridge now appears as a mere something at some position, which can be occupied at any time by something else or replaced by a mere marker.”

Mapping space mathematically—with arbitrary three dimensions—creates intervals of space that can be extracted. Heidegger points out that the constructed dimension of this imagined spatial module between things, once extracted,

“contains no spaces and no places,”

(Heidegger, 106) in itself.


Above (1-4) Making a birch bark canoe: traditional methods, tools and materials were employed: birch bark for the skin, wood for the ribs, spruce roots for the thread, and a spruce resin for waterproofing. 4-6 Using materials available near the site and traditional methods, and working without drawings, prototypes were built by members of the Mi’kmaq community and students based on the reconstruction of longhouses. (Architects: Richard Kroecker, Neil Forrest, Francis LaPointe)

                     =        Discussion 3 :      =

In D&G’s scheme of the contemporary world, everything is moving. While life is traditionally viewed within a frame of Cartesian scheme of phenomena, composed of distinct objects arranged in space, D&G propose instead a dynamic view of life that emphasis ‘becomings’, and the fluxes and flows of which all things are made.

Paul Hirst’s essay on Defence of Places suggests architects are concerned primarily with sedentary fixedness in (Cartesian) space. They are more interested in the static rather than continuing dynamic of movement and renegotion of boundaries which is the ‘reality’ of political and ‘cyber space’ today.

Plate 5


Photographs: site model , Taller Flotante , Hualaihue Caleta Manzano , Chile. Hand made out of wood. Arijit Chatterjee , Asha Sumra

“To the absolutist in every craftsman, each imperfection is a failure; to the practitioner, obsession with perfection seems a perception for failure.”

Richard Sennett, The Craftsman


Lynn, Gregg. Architectural Curvilinearity: The Folded, the Pliant, and the Supple. In: Architectural Design no. 102 Folding in Architecture. (1993 Rajchman, John. Out of the Fold. In: Architectural Design no. 102 Folding in Architecture. (1993).

DELEUZE, G. and GUATTARI, F. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. vol.2. Trans. by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

GENDLIN, E. T. 1962. Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning - A Philosophical and Psychological Approach to The Subjective. New York: The Free Press

WITTGENSTEIN, L. 1958. Philosophical Investigations, [edited by G.E.M. Anscombe and R. Rhees] with an english translation by G.E.M. Anscomb facing the original German. Second Edition, Oxford

Heidegger, Martin and David Farrell Krell (Editor). Basic Writings. HarperCollins. January 1993. Paperback, 397 Pages, Language English, ISBN: 0060638451.

Heidegger, Martin. Basic Writings : Second Edition, Revised and Expanded. Harper SanFrancisco. Feburary 1993. Paperback, 464 Pages, Language English, ISBN: 0060637633.

Heidegger, Martin. Der Begriff der Zeit: Vortrag vor der Marburger Theologenschaft, Juli 1924. Niemeyer Verlag. 1989.

Robert Smithson, areal art , 1972, in Nancy Holt(ed) The writings of Robert Smithson:Essays with illustration, New York , New York University Press 1979

Bernard Rudofsky, Architecture without Architects: A short introduction to Non-Pedigreed Architecture (New York:Doubleday, 1964), Hirst, “The defense of Places ; Fortification as Architecture”. 6