For the last 150 years, vast stretches of Southern Ohio have been mined, leaving interlocking networks of abandoned mines, the majority of which are now flooded. The National Forestry Service has located 4000 abandoned mines in Southeast Ohio and estimates another 8000 have yet to be found. These abandoned mines have been colonized by lithic extremophile bacteria that, as part of their digestion process, free the acidic sulfur found in remaining coal, producing acid mine drainage. An average flooded mine can produce several thousand gallons of toxic sulfur hydroxide every week. Vast stretches of rivers, rolling Appalachian hills and public watersheds flow with the acidic waste produced by this new ecosystem.
A Map Without Boundaries is a mail art project published by Regional Relationships in Winter 2012. The project contains diagrams of the Appalachian watershed system as well as paper, pen, brush and a pigment derived from Ohio’s abandoned mines. These tools, along with the accompanying diagrams can be used to visualize nature/culture entanglements in other regions. These diagrams will be collected as part of an ongoing archive to be include in future exhibitions. If you wish to participate you can download the diagrams related to this project: side 1, side 2, response sheet. Completed diagrams to: A Map Without Boundaries, 225 Lucas Ave. Kingston, NY 12401.
The tube of paint included in this kit was produced using an experimental water treatment technique developed by Dr. Guy Riefler, an environmental engineer from Ohio University. Using local labor and sustainable energy sources, acid mine drainage is turned into a functional artistic and industrial pigment.
A Map Without Boundaries is founded on the understanding that objects and agencies of observation are inseparable parts of a single phenomena. Just as determinate entities do not exist before the events that give them boundaries, space and time do not exist as autonomous fields outside of the phenomena. To interpret the world is to be in and of it. Interpretation is a form of engagement that produces the world as intelligible. This intelligibility does not precede us, just as the map does not exist before the territory, nor is it waiting to be uncovered like some form of buried treasure. In fact, interpretation is not even the sole provenance of human beings, rather, interpretation is the articulation of the world in all of its differential becoming. Embracing this form of engagement means becoming accountable for the types of mattering we produce. This is a profoundly ethical question as it means taking account of the entanglements we produce and are, in turn, produced by. We are our relations of responsibility to the other, both human and nonhuman; this is the ethics of worlding.