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Grant number like: FB-50072-04

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William L. Fox
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar (Reno, NV 89501-1916)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2004 – 12/31/2004

An Examination of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's Haughton-Mars Project

I investigate how human cognition interacts with land in order to turn it into landscape, transforming physical space into cultural "place." My books elucidate the process by examining the traces that we leave in art, architecture, narrative, and scientific imaging. I am seeking support for the research and writing of my ninth book related to this topic: an account of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's "Haughton-Mars Project" on Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic. Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island in the world, a polar desert of dendritic meltwater channels where it is cold, dusty, and incessantly windy--conditions analogous to those found on Mars, which is what draws NASA to work there, developing exploration techniques for a manned mission to Mars. It is also where the Franklin Expedition, sent by the British Admiralty in 1845 to find the Northwest Passage, began to founder, a benchmark event around which it is possible to survey the history of exploration and visual culture in the region. The conjunction of the two explorations offers an opportunity to examine how we deploy cultural means (such as cartography, painting, and remote sensing) as we seek to overcome the cognitive limitations of our evolved neurophysiology in this process. "Driving to Mars" will be set on Devon Island, where I will have completed two seasons of fieldwork; a published book, exhibition, and CD-ROM will be the outcomes of the project.