In an era when global scale and New World histories steer the agendas of historical discourse, Alessandra Ponte’s insistence on looking at the specificity of places, sites, and landscapes has gained exceptional momentum. The six essays in The House of Light and Entropy span the spectrum of Ponte’s far-reaching research interests, woven into a tight fabric of critical reflections. They trace histories of the cultivation of nature, of mapping, and of media in the context of American sites that have one characteristic in common: the lawn, the sand desert, and the ice desert are vast. As landscapes conceived of as “empty,” they have repeatedly been claimed as sites of scientific and artistic testing. Recognizing...

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