Framework Then and Now

In the past, the discipline to me was an understanding of presence, how objects rest in relation to the land and human experience. I also sought to impose my background in sculpture on landscape architecture. I realize now that that thinking was flawed for both sculpture and landscape architecture are inherently linked. They both have material conditions and responses (to themselves and their environment). They both create presence (in of themselves and their environment through human experience).

They are linked, but, they do have a difference in thinking that I was not aware of at that time: scale. I do not mean that simply one is larger or smaller than the other. I mean that the scope, or extent of thinking is different. Most sculpture concerns itself with the object of itself. Most sculpture does not consider its surroundings or if it somehow does, is not influenced by said surroundings to create meaning on a higher plane of thought. Lately it has irritated me when sculptors discuss their work and pay little to no interest in the placement of their work. An analogy of this would be to consider a well refined and developed work on display in a gallery. It is powered by a black, ungainly power cord plugged into the wall. Yes, there are artists who question craft or the modus operandi of work in a gallery, but the majority do not -- because their concern with sculpture is with the object of itself. A landscape architect would be concerned with the power cord and the outlet it plugs into. Perhaps even the cables, the walls and the electrical grid. Unlike sculpture, whose interest is with objects, landscape architecture is concerned with those objects embedded in the landscape, whether it be deep in the hinterlands or part of the urban fabric.

The discipline is not just regulated to design. I never imagined that landscape architecture has the power to not just influence policy making but enact change as well. Unlike the fine arts or architecture, which are influential, (look at the progression of society in the 20th century), landscape has the capability to change fundamental concepts of society -- water use, transportation, human experience and interaction -- that no political agenda can ever hope to accomplish. So we are not just creators of human experience, we are designers of society.

Upon graduation I will continue my various initiatives outside of the discipline with a decidedly marked concentration in better practices and landscape architecture. In sculpture, I intend to embark on public art projects that actively engage experience and presence. In authoring my children picture books, I intend to introduce a story arc that involves either better practices or current issues in landscape management. In illustration, using my Hippoville™ cards as a vehicle for environmental edutainment will not go unnoticed to the public. In Hippos for Humanity, I hope to develop the project of using alternative land use practices to benefit humans and hippos alike in 29 African countries. And finally, within the discipline itself, I hope to understand how to design landscapes that have presence and porosity.

[It's curious that when I wrote this back in July, I thought it was perfect. Now there were some things I've changed for this post.]