Inhabited Landscape


BArch 1 Studio

Christina Condak | Eva Sommeregger

In the 6 minute film SWAMP by Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, the artists explore the constraints of documenting a site, a swamp terrain, through the limiting lens of the camera, the finite length of the 16mm film reel, and their own physicality when walking through the harsh reeds and wet ground. We hear Smithson in the background giving directions to Holt about how to move forward, which she cannot easily follow. As Robert Smithson puts it, “It's about deliberate obstructions or calculated aimlessness.” Holt has said that Smithson gave her directions as she held the camera, and the film deals with the limits of her perception in seeing and following his instructions. “Verbal direction cannot easily be followed; as the reeds crash against the camera lens, blocking vision and forming continuously shifting patterns, confusion ensues,” Holt says. The film creates an immediate awareness of an interior space in the landscape through the bodily experience. Boundaries are tangible, yet shifting. There is a play on the notion of site and sight. In this setting, we are not allowed to see the horizon, which would give us a vantage point for orientating ourselves. Something is made out of nothing, a situation is constructed. It is an anti-picturesque landscape; there is no vantage point here. Here we are within.

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Inhabited Landscape


BArch 1 Studio

Christina Condak | Eva Sommeregger

In another attempt to connect the body with the greater forces, Holt places her sun tunnels on the axis of the equinox, as a way of at once connecting man to the stars and making the interior space communicate the changes of the sun and seasonal time. Shadows, sun lines, movement etc. – these are our first ingredients of architecture. This primary aspect of inhabiting the landscape is our work for the semester. How do we touch down and take off? How do we position ourselves, how do we view things? How do we work with gravity? How do we move physically in space?
The architect works in and between the ground and the sky. This space can be understood as deep and shifting, created over time and by different forces, whether in urban territory as landscape, or what we know of as landscape. Architects seek to mediate in this depth and make it hospitable to life’s activities. In this first semester, we will explore the notion of territory, landscape and site. By zooming in, interpreting and scaling different archetypal landscapes, we will look at how we represent them, and by doing so, invent sites to inhabit.

 

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