The word “throughline” had to do with the idea of tracing the line of a story through many different moments, and moving from almost an intuitive reading through a deep research process based on interviews, newspaper searches, and library work. The process started with me beginning to cluster and sequence Richard’s photographs, based on the larger sets of stories that we wanted to tell—oil, waste, displacement, etc.—and beginning to sequence and organize a set of concepts into throughline chapters, which were then sequenced into the larger story of the Atlas.
The process started with a photograph and then “knowing about the typology of small houses and settlement clusters of the time, we just thought to start by drawing out the first images in my mind’s eye of what the context of the two asphalt pads might have been so many years ago, to imagine sort of a mirage of what might have been there, based on photos from the same era that we found in a Louisiana state historical archive.”
The second drawing in that series, the map at river scale, was one of the last drawings in the entire book to be completed and represents the combined work of a number of people in the office, seeking to understand and compile stories of buyouts and displacement from probably thirty different sources—interviews, books, newspaper articles, legal records, e-mails, etc. We overlaid those stories with information about when the plants were established, so it becomes a portrait of a certain scale and type of community fabric and relationships being replaced by a different scale of industrial fabrics, scales, and material relationships.
- Stories that were never ‘supposed’ to meet and have never been seen together (also from Arles, see Mario del Curto’s Vegetal Humanity) 
- What about the stories that get missed out and fall of the edge? (see Mark Power’s 26 Different Endings)
- A chapter approach – has clarity and dynamism, helps move the narrative along
- Stories and further developments will keep being discovered so there needs to be a mechanism to capture these and feed them into the narrative, if desired
- Orff’s definition of a throughline: This is not “detective work,” but rather a creative and imaginative process that interweaves intuition and research.
- https://aperture.org/blog/richard-misrach-and-kate-orff-in-conversation/ (accessed 30.11.19)
- https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2019/jul/23/reap-what-you-sow-mario-del-curtos-world-of-vegetation-in-pictures (accessed 4.1.20)