The view from the air marked a new stage in the process of circulating reference by which a forest became a road, became an agricultural colony, one in which the land was abstracted into building blocks used to form new modern eco-assemblages. It can be useful to think of these assemblages—the monocultural plantation, the family farm, the cattle ranch—as representing a modernity that was literally inscribed into the landscape through the project of road colonization and with the explicit aid of aircraft. In 1967, as progress on La Marginal was moving through the Central Huallaga, Roads Department engineers were faced with a choice between two possible centerline courses: one, down the left bank of the Huallaga, was a straighter—thus cheaper—path, while the other, through the small Biabo valley east of the Huallaga was thought to provide access to more arable land. To solve their problem, they took to the air in a series of helicopter flights between Juanjuí and Tocache. Images from the flights demonstrate what I mean by inscription, for they first abstracted the view of the land below. One photo in particular from near the Sión canyon showed the river converted into an unreal blotch, projecting out from the bottom-right corner of the frame and unexpectedly terminating at center frame in a total erasure of the river’s flow (first image). These visual fragments of the valley were then analyzed at Roads Department offices in Juanjuí, where the first interventions of the planner’s hand were documented in the form of dotted lines, kilometer marks and toponyms inscribed onto the photos in blue ink (third image). This process was then repeated in life size as road workers inscribed La Marginal’s centerline into the left bank of the Huallaga. Photos taken in the same area five months later showed scars of cleared forest where the engineers had run their blue pen (images four and five). In one of Arturo Solís Tovar’s last contributions to La Marginal, he documented this change of course in a 1968 series of maps and profiles.
 My thinking here comes from Bruno Latour, “Circulating Reference: Sampling the Soil in the Amazon Rainforest,” in Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 24–79; and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).