Domus magazine issue #933
What meets the eye when we gaze at a typical Arcadian landscape, of the kind represented in Flemish paintings, in Giorgione or Poussin? A natural expanse, interrupted by the presence of human artefacts extraneous to the biological fabric, but combined with its panorama.
They are the signs of a human presence, artificialia that write the map of naturalia. These anthropic elements incarnate the aesthetic vectors essential to the transformation of natural environment into landscape.
When looking at another kind of view (since landscape, like human beings, expresses itself in many ways), for example an urban landscape of our time reproduced in a photograph of New York, London or Tokyo, the situation changes irreversibly.
Here the background is not nature any more, but a web of concrete, glass and steel. In this new scenic backdrop, against which contemporary humanity moves, nature has become a guest welcomed and tolerated, but out of context. The relationships between background and figure, nature and artefact, are reversed: a typical sign of our times.
The problem, however, in this new coexistence, is that nature, reduced to the status of pure ornament or luxury accessory, cannot shoulder the transliteration of urban space into landscape. This happens because nature rests on its metropolitan background in an absolutely superficial way, like a quotation with no bearing on the main text, with no effective nexus of reciprocal co-implication.
This incoherent outlook on the combined presence of nature and the artificial cannot be expected to produce the aesthetic paradigms of a new landscape. Consequently, our society is bereft of any really contemporary definition of landscape and remains anchored instead, in its collective imaginary, to models still steeped in the past.
In this problematic context, many landscape designs have in recent years started from the concrete aim to establish the codes of contemporary landscape. With a critical and sentient approach to the issue, although different in scale and action, these new landscapes propose models, examples and forms on which to rest the eye and educate the mind, as micro/macro spaces of what might be called a planetary garden.
Flavio Albanese. Planetary landscapes
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