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Using technical interventions, the photographers show hidden, forgotten, and destroyed parts of the landscape
In 1997, an amendment to the ALL OF US National Defense Authorization Act barred American corporations from distributing high-resolution satellite images associated with Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Citing Israeli safety concerns, this amendment pressured American mapping services like Google Earth to inflict scale restrictions on their pictures of the region, limiting what its users can see.
Israeli photographers Miki Kratsman plus Shabtai Pinchevsky’s joint task Anti-Mapping counters this obfuscation by providing high-resolution, alternative roadmaps that expose hidden, destroyed, and forgotten parts of the Israeli-Palestinian landscape. “The fact of Anti-Mapping , ” explains Kratsman, “is to create a civilian map outside the establishment”.
After gathering thousands of drone shots of each site, Kratsman and Pinchevsky used a mapping plus measuring technique called photogrammetry to create 3D models that they then photographed in high-res. As Pinchevsky explains: “We want the satellite picture, but we don’t have the satellite. So we’re kind of creating it. ”
In Kratsman and Pinchevsky’s images of Israel-Palestine, currently on display at the Tel Aviv Museum of Artwork, the landscape is represented in around 100 moments more detail than images of the region obtained by means of Google Earth. These photographs recover details that have disappeared through official maps: Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948, the entire year Israel declared statehood; villages belonging to nomadic Arab Bedouin tribes, unrecognised by the condition; and the Green Line, the 1949 armistice line set out after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. “The places that we made a decision to map are all connected to the good forced displacement in His home country of israel and Palestine, ” clarifies Pinchevsky.
Their own images of al-Jammama, a former Palestinian village in Israel’s Negev desert, show the ploughed agricultural fields of Kibbutz Ruhama, the Israeli community which lives there now. Arou nd these dark brown fields are untended swaths of green: untouched areas of the former village. “You possess two layers here, ” explains Kratsman, “The eco-friendly is 1948. And the dark brown is now. ”
The artists supplement their aerial images with close-up photos of conditions on the ground. In a single photograph of Umm al-Hiran [above], an unrecognised Bedouin village, a forest sprouts from the ruins of a demolished house. “The forest became a kind of monument for that house that was there just before. Because we are allowed to kill the house but not the shrub, ” Kratsman says.
Each image title includes the particular site’s coordinates and altitude, as well as a timestamp. These details function as another kind of map: one pertaining to visitors to track how locations have changed over time. “We go to document places that are under the threat of shift and we know that if we go back there in a few years, it will appearance different, ” explains Pinchevsky.
Anti-Mapping claims a fundamental human “right in order to see” that transcends the will of any authorities, corporation, or establishment. Kratsman and Pinchvesky are working aid this right by building a high-resolution archive of the rising and falling Israeli-Palestinian landscape. Their task is at once a revelation from the past, a record of the present, and also a resource for the future. As Kratsman explains, “It’s only the starting point, the hook to talk about the area we live in. ”