Figure 1: Descriptio Maris Pacific
Descriptio Maris Pacific was the first dedicated map of the Pacific to be printed (public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2061644).
Navigating different media such as maps, names, novels, or data charts, media philosophy complicates the question of how oceans become objects or things. And the Pacific’s ontology appears to be particularly slippery: Around 1850, Herman Melville thinks of the Pacific through metaphysical or literary depictions, while Matthew Maury, one of the pioneers of oceanography, conceives of it as a data composite. Karl Marx understands it in terms of space-time compression, and Mormon missionaries reimagine the Pacific theologically as a deep history. Yet, when read alongside each other, one can discover a media theory in oceanography, and an oceanography in literature, and there never seems to be enough time and space to tell the whole story of the Pacific.
Video available at: https://vimeo.com/527398349