With those images, Spinatsch documents the infrastructure of snow control—and outright terrain manufacture—at an Alpine resort, including the labyrinths of retaining fences and the individual pieces of equipment that make snow creation and large-scale, though ephemeral, landscape-sculpting possible.
In a way, these scenes are like a big-budget variation on Sergio López-Piñeiro’s idea, discovered via Mammoth, of a snow park or whitesward. López-Piñeiro’s own photographic documentation of urban plowing practices—that is, the deliberate reshaping of snow piles into an ephemeral, new, seasonal topography—is an attempt, he writes, “to show how standard plowing techniques can become creative tools for generating winter landscapes.” López-Piñeiro continues:
The white parks that I envision could be easily constructed: plowing master plans would carefully locate the snow mounds, and the resulting designs would artistically exploit the spatial conditions defined by these usually overlooked piles of snow.
In winter, an artfully shaped snow landscape could become a “whitesward”—underscoring the now obscured potential for plowing to positively transform public space. Such a white landscape could be considered a “snow observation ground” to encourage people to appreciate the snow and its accumulation, and to dispel the negative impressions and experiences that our combative approach has produced.
Ski resorts, with their huge array of technical devices and machinic subfamilies all geared toward—indeed, specifically invented for—the purpose of creating new landscapes below the thermal boundary at which their engineered shapes will liquify, become extraordinary experiments in terrain-generation on a massive scale. They are a kind of igneous hydrology: the controlled freezing of matter into artificial forms.