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fah377 lec 2.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Pam Wolff

lec 2 review the 3 dilemmas, one broad; the tension between the natural/cultural (or human/non-human forces in evolution of landscapes); hybrid ecologies that merge from that tension paradox in the discipline that distinguishes it from the other designs/fine arts: i.e. the medium is never truly within their control ex. storm inundated land that had fallen well below sea level, Katrina ex. the reflecting pool at Bloedel Reserve, Washington: geometrical rectangular pool fed by an underground spring particular to NA: since early days of European colonization, the landscape embedded in NA consciousness as source of wealth, exploited for economic gain; as source for moral and spiritual betterment, common psychic ground for people who had come to this land without shared history ex. Olmstead at Mariposa Mines: transformation to reveal inherent qualities, a circulation route and cottages that permit experience of extraordinary landscapes seen in photographs ex. Watkins at Yosemite (constructive process into national icon; mines) documentation of Yosemite used to advocate preservation both men associated with intellectual and political spheres, essential to Olmstead’s work both as advocate for importance of American landscapes and as designer; Watkins, through his associations attained visibility and longevity of his works; both able to influence construction of public discourse because they participated in that process documented, described and then how later experienced propagation of images of Yosemite (ex. postcard portfolios) both frame experience of landscape and yet record it; construct, dispose a particular consciousness and then confirm by the p/articulated experience many of these postcards are reminiscent of Watkins photographs; there is a series that narrates the experience inside the park; where are the people? what is the scale of this place? what are the people doing? how does the image emphasize scale and grandeur? clues to how to read the image? relationship of broad ideas to details of case studies keep in mind basic descriptors of projects: designer, client, audience (usage), when designed, completed, where, uses (programs), spatial organization, iconography; images, purpose, producer, distribution, etc. • Niagara Falls Reservation coming to terms with the new continent was a way of shaping NA culture artifact of last Ice Age, as glaciers came south they gouged out basins of lake and as they retreated filled the basins 10000 yrs ago, series of events, land pops up (PEI county) from release of pressure of ice 5000 yrs ago, young Niagara river turns and creates rapids: now known of Whirlpool rapids Niagara Valley inhabited by Native Americans ‘discovered’ 17th century by Europeans who immediately regarded it as remarkable phenomenon; noted early during colonizations, regarded as monument of culture, as part of sublime patrimony of continent Frederick Church, painting one of many not particular remote from urban centres, popular excursion of Hudson River School of Painters as at Yosemite and Mariposa, dilemma between valorization and exploitation from 1759 Falls had been used to generate power New York State made the surrounding land available for purchase: mills exploitation existed immediately next to the falls but white-washed out of the picture by artists, did not fit into ‘sublimity’ Olmstead concerned about degeneration of heritage landscape into economic dearth; proposes scenic preservation, petition urging state to form reservation - distinguished signors 1885 state passes bill to create reservation Vaux originally commissioned... accommodation for large numbers of people without crowding, 10 000 a day at a time when Yosemite had 3000 a year; made it more difficult and different as design problem from Yosemite; already filled with banal constructions; to create illusion of remoteness, sublime, in the face of the very ordinary Olmstead use of planting and circulation to create remoteness and solitude: to hide, frame perspectives a camouflage project to direct vision towards the things you do want to see Goat Island, a winding pathway along the edge, a narrow strip even relative to the city block: density of planted edge, which opens up only where development is not visible the comprehensive report included public access, safety, signage, guideboards, what to do with vandals, to protect, conserve selected areas aerial view reveals scope of the image point of view plays huge role in the kind of image that can be described vantage point, horizon line ostensibly, views from actual visitors Vaux and Olmstead’s plan focused on intimacy of experience at various scales (not just grandeur of Falls) vista points created to offer these points of view as at Yosemite, images recirculated in various media 1937: stereographs the place discovered, subject of paintings and drawings, taken to the city, capture imaginations, people visit, their experience choreographed by design; disseminated as evidence of importance of the place for human psyche; development of the mythic image, the monument these experiences and images are absolutely designed and rhetorical, arguing for the expression of an idea about nature and culture specific to this place and time • Olmstead and Nature in the NA City: Central Park, Mount Royal, Emerald Necklace, Riverside ideas about the importance of nature transform American cities, Olmstead a key agent and exponent in what becomes a project for the whole continent question of the role or image of nature in the city, the way in which the images, and the hunger for such images, begins to influence daily life; not such a polar difference between the city and these sublime places: the initial advocates part of urban elite, the visitors are from the city, and the longing for nature as psychic fuel is absolutely a product of urbanization the moment at which wilderness as concept, nature as romantic ideal, is closely related to development of big cities: to a degree when this wild continent has began to be tamed, no longer so terrifying (mitigation of real threat makes it easier to embrace these incredible scenes) not an attempt to retreat from urbanity but to enrich, NOT fundamentally anti-urban! but rather about an expectation that people will live more and more densely and thus the restorative power of remote places like Yosemite, Niagara, etc. needs to be seized rustic scenery embedded in the city is necessary to its improvement/development to create public spaces that bring the benefits of rusticity (so
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