FAH101H1 Lecture Notes - Horsecar, Emerald Necklace, Hudson River School

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1 Feb 2013
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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
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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
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
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