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A new exhibition at the Center for Land Use Interpretation opened last week, called Initial Points: Anchors of America's Grid, produced in collaboration with the Institute of Marking and Measuring.
Through maps, surveying devices, and other artifacts from the process of land marking and measurement, the exhibition "depicts and describes the 37 Initial Points of the Public Land Survey System, the rectilinear grid that covers more than two thirds of the landscape of the USA. These surveying points, located in places such as swamps, under manhole covers, in roads, and on top of mountains, are the physical locations that tie this grid to the ground. Looking at them in a contemporary context explores the process and importance of the endeavor of surveying, and reveals a latent cadastral history of the nation as it expanded westward."
[Image: A view of the exhibition at CLUI].
An earlier program at CLUI looked at U.S./Mexico border-survey markers, which documented 276 "obelisks" placed at the very limit of the nation, monumentalizing and literalizing a particular vision of state territory.
Initial Points—foregrounding the tools and training that allow state delineation or what we might call "ground control"—is on display until April 15, 2012.