A scape– from Latin scapus shaft– is a capture device for vastness. So, we define environments by seeing them as landscapes, transform land into territory, in order to ‘get hold of it’, ‘get a grip on it’, understand, obtain control, enable navigation and ultimately, ‘own’ a space. This last step of scaping creates contestation; always. Up to now, the contestation about our mapping of off-earth is not always so tangible beyond mirroring known geopolitical power struggles on earth.
In her theorisation of modern time, anthropologist Laura Bear argues that “science and technology tightly link social, human time to external non-human rhythms; frame time as a radically other secular force; and project a deep history of natural time” (Bear, 2014: 7). Following these insights, I like to think of space science infrastructure such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) as a timescape.
Thinking of scapes, I take this opportunity to gather some thoughts on e-scapes: not electronic scapes, but ways of getting away. While this may not exactly designate a -scape as was proposed, it still provides a way to think about space and distance. It assembles certain ways of thinking about our situatedness in our time on this planet.
Today, as space science activities are rapidly shifting the way humans perceive themselves on Earth, and within a larger set of relationships both on and off-Earth, we wonder how the spatial concept ‘scape’ helps us understand the relationship between terrestrial formations and extraterrestrial space.