Lecture 1: Landscape concepts
What are landscapes?
Natural (natural sceneries) and built (well-known structures and buildings, ordinary sites and environments, human activities over space).
Landscapes are not just the natural and physical features of the earth’s surface. But also features of the earth’s surface that are produced by humans, both those that inspire awe (iconic structures) as well as the more ordinary scenes and environments. Landscapes can also refer to spatialised individual and collective human.
Landscapes can be materially and tangibly perceived as well as represented in a book, on a postcard, through a film, as a painting etc.
Symbolic landscapes are described symbolically by what it signifies, such as when it depicts abstract ideas like wealth, place to relax etc.
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Real Vs Imaginary
Real: Have a concrete, material basis, part of social experience, created as part of nature or by humans.
Imaginary: exist in mind, part of social imagination, created in myths, legends, fiction, represented in paintings and other media
Both are closely intertwined. For example, imagined landscapes we see in movies such as LOTR possess elements of the real world as the ideas in shaping these landscapes are drawn from what is seen and experienced in the real world. Alternatively, the terrorist attacks on the WTC are closely associated with scenes with Hollywood movies eg Die Hard, Blown Away.
This relationship shows the power of landscapes as these landscapes can capture our imaginations and shape our ideas as much as we have the power to transform, and effect changes in landscapes.
2. Spectacular Vs Ordinary
Spectacular: aim to impress, visual effect more important, associated with dominant power
Ordinary: familiar, encountered on a daily or regular basis, ‘Fields of care’, associated with the people
Landscapes may have multiple uses and can mean different things to different people, which sometimes come in conflict with one another.
Landscapes of spectacle are constructed for image and usually cater to the more privileged.
3. Dominant Vs Alternate
Dominant: Landscapes of inclusion, created by and for the majority culture, ‘top-down’
Alternative: landscapes of exclusion, created by and for minority culture, ‘bottom-up’
Dominant landscapes are produced by elites (eg the state or other dominant groups with necessary resources) and usually for the majority of a particular country.
Alternative landscapes that are produced by and belongs to marginalized groups within societies because of their lack of access to rights and resources in the country. These everyday experiences also show that they may be subjected to discrimination.