Counter Hydro-Cartographies – Gray Area Festival Workshop

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Counter Hydro-Cartographies – Gray Area Festival Workshop

During this workshop, participants will research the history of industrialization of rivers near the Bay Area as they reflect on the operational dimension imposed over landscapes through image-making technologies.

Using a custom-made software designed to extract images from Google Earth Engine we will develop a variety of dynamic maps that will aim to invert the principles of rectification that rivers suffer. The proposed exercises are designed to disorient the functional expectations of a variety of navigation tools, understanding them as mechanisms that perpetuate an extractive relationship towards rivers as they satisfy human needs. Participants will study how the technoscientific trajectory of what is understood as progress is superimposed on ecosystems, generating processes of control over forms of life that transform water courses into technical objects and legal subjects.

This workshop is part of the  Gray Area Festival 2023: Plural Prototypes and the C/Change Initiative.

Marking Gray Area’s 15th anniversary, this year’s Gray Area Festival highlights in-progress cultural experiments from our Creative Research and Development Labs, Cultural Incubator, and Education programs in collaboration with community and industry partners.

C/Change is a joint initiative by Goethe-Institut San Francisco and Gray Area, exploring ways emerging technologies can shape and support digital cultural exchange.

Course Logistics

Thursday October 19, 2023


Gray Area
2665 Mission Street
San Francisco

10am – 1pm

$10 for a 3hr hands-on workshop (Limited to 16 students)

We also offer Diversity Scholarships, find out more and apply here

Experience level: Beginner

Course Requirements:
No prerequisites to participate. Participants should make a Google Earth Engine account with their Google profile here prior to the workshop.

Education Goals

The goals for the workshop is for participants to get exposed to publicly available satellite data as they critically reflect with mapping as both a surveillance technology and demarcation practice. They will engage with the political history of bodies of water around the Bay Area and the industrialization of rivers as an extractive practice.


Google Earth Engine
Google Maps
GeoJSON data

About the Project

All Possible Rivers – Federico Pérez Villoro

Taking into account the physics that participate in the evolution of the Rio Grande, which delimits half of the U.S. – Mexico border, a computational model will be programmed to anticipate its future transformations throughout geological temporalities. Using historical data in the public domain on the behavior of the river, the model will simulate interactions between water and land to measure possible geomorphological changes the result of techno-natural engineering and public policies. The mathematical model will decompress geological time into many possible and impossible versions of the rivers as immersive 3D environments — a tool to weave situated stories through the material metaphor of the river and to respatialize the border beyond the immediacy of human scales.



Federico Pérez Villoro is an artist and researcher living and working in Mexico City. Through texts, performances, and digital artifacts, his work explores the ways in which state, corporate and institutional authority is expressed technologically. Federico has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design and California College of the Arts and is the founder of Materia Abierta, a summer school on theory, art, and technology.