Separating land and water is not just an act of division; it is also an act of creation. It creates land and water from ubiquitous wetness, defining them on either side of a line. It is one of the first acts of design, setting out a ground of habitation with a line that has largely been naturalized in features such as the coastline, the riverbank, and the water’s edge. These features are subjected to artistic representations, scientific inquiry, infrastructural engineering, and landscape design with little awareness of the act that brought them into being. Today, however, with the increasing frequency of flood and, not unrelatedly, sea-level rise attributed to climate change, the line of separation has come into sharp focus with proposals for walls, levees, natural defenses, and land retirement schemes. These responses raise questions on where the line is drawn, but they also raise questions on the separation that this line facilitates. Is this separation found in nature or does nature follow from its assertion? Are there other beginnings to design and consequently, other possible natures and grounds of habitation?
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