Jan '12 - Oct '13
Just got back from Panama. The Panama Canal blew my fucking mind. I guess the funny thing about sublime experiences is that they, well, really depend on experience. . . Sometimes artists attempt to approach a certain kind of psychological or perceptual immensity. I can remember the first times I really looked at a Mark Rothko color field painting (a gauzy, yet heavy feeling - like a late spring cotton mouthed high) or could not escape the reverberations of an Agnes Martin grid (a buzzing, ebullient trance) or was pummeled by X or NOU before getting weighed down again by taste or situating the work in this or that cultural context. Other kinds of art addresses capitalism, technology, technologies of modern capital, important but blah blah blah. . . But the experience of seeing ships transit through the Panama Canal was so much more instructive, all encompassing, and yes, a technologically sublime experience . . . I dunno, I'm gushing. . . . Just imagine a continuous tracking shot - near silent - in 3D and beyond your field of vision, and of a duration that exceeds the longest possible reel of film or (that I know of - maybe Marclay's "The Clock" has crossed this boundary?) capacity of digital media. . . Imagine a work of such physical immensity that is beyond the realm of what can be accomplished by mobilizing human labor with the persuasions of violence or political power alone that erected the monuments of antiquity. This is a work of such a scale that it can only be mobilized by capital - the bits and bobs of $.99 store junk being reeled out by factories in Shenzen, sleek wind turbines that you'll never see eye to eye again, chartreuse hatchbacks that are destined for the promiscuous and loveless life of an economy rental car. . . A man and a plan, what shall I do with you, Panama Canal?
Early 21st C. design pedagogy and practice privilege the blurring of landscape architecture, building architecture, and urbanism. While the integration of environmental and built systems holds great promise for designers, the generalist impulse can obscure the value of specialization and experience, especially when working in the medium of living systems. This blog seeks to demystify landscape architecture, working not to reinforce differences in title, but foster mutual understanding.