David Birchall. 'Sound Drawing'

Public opinion, civic uses of land tied to social systems, changing land use definitions as demographics and social attitudes change:

Nora Wendl. ' Pruitt-Igoe, Tomorrow'

Heather Dunbar and Xiaowei Wang. 'Pruitt-Igoe Now'

Dustin Valen. 'On the Merits of Bad Behaviour in Public Parks'

Mapping and being: why are some places beautiful, what do we think about them as we draw them, photograph them and document their ephemerality and their sometimes difficult histories:

Novka Cosovic. 'Ometepe Island, Lago de Nicaragua'Graham Hooper. 'Castles of sand, fall in the sea, eventually'

The vast spaces of deserts, military sites, and national parks.  Are these spaces any less complex than our busy urban landscapes?

Desirée Valadares. 'Dispossessing the Wildernes, conservation issues in national parks'

Matt Neville. 'Our National Landscape; romanticising the Canadian hinterland'

Sara Jacobs. 'Ghosts, Tooele County, Utah'

Lindsey Nette. 'Lost in the Empty; Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan'

Dillon Marsh. 'Assimilation; Kalahari Desert, South Africa'

The remediated landscapes of mining, war and detente – each has left a damaged land which, through sheer necessity, is reclaimed, reforested and brought into the present with great love and hope:

 Leanna Lalonde. 'Under Cover of Green; the re-greening of Sudbury'

David Fortin. 'Watching Sudbury; gazing at a re-greened landscape'

Ruth Oldham. 'Holes and Heaps; terrils as cultural artefacts in le Bassin Mineur, France'

Xiaoxuan Lu. 'Landscape Noir; Laos'

Mike Taylor. 'Form on the Frontier; an architecture for the DMZ'

Protective infrastructure: it’s a dangerous place out there.  How do we make nature palatable, less threatening, less likely to crash down on our heads:

Dominique Cheng. 'Planespotting; the Kai Tak Project'Michael J Leeb. 'Flood mitigation: Akamina Parkway, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta'

Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter. 'Trollstigen Visitor Centre, Romsdalen-Geiranger fjord, Norway'

Stephanie White. 'Listening to Landscapes'

Landscapes understood by the foot, which walks them, and by the hand, which draws them:

Michael J Leeb. 'Oil City, 1901' Alec Spangler. 'Walking and Narrative'

Troels Steenholdt Heiredal. 'The Aarhus Drawing'

onsite 33: on land

Giuseppe Licari. Registered: Il Paesaggio Oggetto Per Aspera ad Astra, a festival curated by Marina Comandini. Monteverdi Tuscany, Val d’Orcia, Siena, Italy 2013 Land art intervention: 70 x 90 mWhat is landscape?  The discussion of landscape, in contrast to land, geology, dirt and soil, is often one of aesthetics. And, conventionally, aesthetics seem to be dissociated from politics, social conditions and most things unpalatable.

It is possible that ‘landscape’ is a screen or mask that beautifies a set of ugly exploitations. The greening of oil sands tailing ponds, much advertised as remediated landscapes of grasslands and marshes, presents landscape practices that excuse industrialised extractive industries.  The relationship is quantified as surface area: so many hectares of remediated land vs hectares of open pits. I’m not sure it is exactly about numbers. Is there ever a time when landscape is more than a historical record and is not just a panacea, but is a solution?

‘Landscape’ is sometimes understood as a designed condition that mediates between malign forces of nature and the more controllable forces of human settlement.  We hold the lines on the map to our hearts and minds, despite their irrelevance to things such as weather, or jihad, or chemical spills: on site there is a different reality, a different ‘landscape’ and it is one we don’t quite understand and certainly can’t control. Very easily one can be in the wrong place in the wrong landscape through sheer bad timing.

And then there is the beautiful ‘landscape’ of the Red River that flows through Winnipeg, currently being dragged for murdered aboriginal girls. Or BC Highway 16, the Highway of Tears, a stunningly beautiful landscape across northern British Columbia that is forever blackened, not by fire, but by systemic racialised abuse. These are landscapes of fear.
Landscape is the tag by which we transform land – that mysterious entity of climate, geology and potential resources – into some sort of human endeavour, the unfamiliar made familiar by applying rules which make us feel that we can own the environment.

Although the word landscape, like the word architecture, appears frequently as a metaphor for social relations, we would like to look here at actual land and landscape: subversive landscapes, landscapes of exclusion and privilege, landscapes used as social tools for social order, landscapes of intent.  

What do they look like?  How do they work?  What is landscape for?

Entries by Category

Click on a category below to view a list of all entries within that category.