I have thought that Walden Pond would be a good place for business... it is a good port and a good foundation.




resource relays

tracing the environmental systems, stakes, processes, & procurements evoked by thoreau's acerbic accounting

The following series traces the novel ‘needs’ Thoreau thematically critiques in Walden. Each infographic essay dissects one (or two) chapter’s dominant commercial or industrial episode, drawing out the unseen agents, extended territories, and symbiotic material relays that would’ve been obvious to Thoreau’s peers (but are lost on casual, modern readers). Along with historically, spatially contextualizing Thoreau’s critique of consumption, these ‘industrial’ ecologies offer a reflection on the tools, tropes, and media of resource construction and governance.


For an audience of architects and landscape urbanists, these graphics thus excavate the informal ‘infrastructures’ underpinning antebellum urbanization – rail-driven up-scaling, intermodal adaptations, global resource markets, regional/interstate necessities-sheds (for food, fuel, clean water, nutrients, news, etc.), novel forms of legal-material territory, and so on – offering an accessible introduction to the processes, politics, and exchanges at work in American modernization.


For an audience of eco-critics and media-theorists, these series enlarge on Leo Marx’s ‘tropic’ reading of Thoreau, simply acknowledging the additional forms of literacy (quantitative, commercial, ‘scientific,’ administrative, cartographic) that would’ve been normative for an educated audience of the time. Thoreau’s pastiche of sources and citations are thus read in light of the mutual, if divergent, tools for describing place and prosperity in the 17-19th centuries – from pastoral rhetoric, political arithmetik, and political economy to the rise of statistics in the 1830s.


From  immediate measures to international trade triangles, Walden Pond's dual demarcations provide a view of the ice-trade, urban refrigeration, and shipping.

"The Pond in Winter"

Walden (ed. Cramer, 2004), 273-288.





In conversation with Thoreau's survey of Walden Pond, this series explores Walden's description of the 1847 winter harvest of ice for the 'Frozen-Water' trade. Unpacking the effects of primitive refrigeration, it ties Thoreau's mediated account and the commodification of climate to industrial, urban food-sheds and international, import alliances.



Landscape Architecture Frontiers, v4.


Infographic narrative


textual narrative

extracting energy

From manual labor to manufactures & motive powers, Walden's Woods offer an index of fuel forms, 'excavations,' and conservation conflicts.

"house warming"

Walden (ed. Cramer, 2004), 228-45.



fuel markets measured

Unpacking Thoreau's hearth and heating reveries, this series explores Walden's description of wood collection and conservation facing the fuel/heating crises of the mid-1840's. From timber laws to colonial forestry manuals, it uses Thoreau's turn as a wood 'warden' as an opportunity to map the evolving, governmental forms of fuel and motive power accounting.



Infographic narrative

May 2016


interactive visualization

May 2016



From Cato to Arthur Young and Quetelet's catalogs, Thoreau's mixed mensurations play with the  embryonic accounting and economic ambitions driving improvement.

imaging improvement

"economy" & "Conclusion"

Walden (ed. Cramer, 2004), 108-124.


pastoral arithmetick





From bean and bushels to salted cod, Concord's grocery receipts testify to regional nutrient cycles, class divides, and consumptive couplings.

sourcing provisions

"the bean field" & "village"

Walden (ed. Cramer, 2004), 150-167.







From poetry to paper pushers & postal routes, Thoreau's rag & rail reveries stake out media history.

massaging media

"reading" & "sounds"

Walden (ed. Cramer, 2004), 108-124.







From color to microscopy, Walden Pond provides a romantic vantage on public health debates and demonstrations.

plumbing publics

"the ponds"

Walden (ed. Cramer, 2004), 168-193.


emergent infrastructure




launch schedule

Chapter by chapter explorations - print and interactive - will be posted as completed. Background databases and query-base mappings will evolve on a similar schedule.


Beyond the initial series, "Re-Surveying Walden," under Material Metabolisms, new data, interactions, and infographics will be posted in May 2016.

mapping metabolisms