Monday, May 6, 2013

Landscape Still or Moving?




Experiencing the landscape is a snapshot of the present, a surface at once flat and bumpy, lit and shadowed. Or it is an immersion into an always present moment, a moment that tunnels or ramifies or disappears or endures like an old piece of cloth. In landscape we engage a surface reality, a reality that holds a fascination and motion of its own, a reality that is so "present" it's hard to believe it has a past. Or we see into a past at once murky and clear, designed of its own dreams, elusive, illusion, allusion.



The landscape seems static, unchanging, glacial. It may appear magnificent or insignificant, close or far. Or the landscape is a cascade of movement, starry cold and distant, or the shaded, singing liquid of a waterfall, or warm and smoky with the depth of murky aromas. We see wind in the trees and the grass, we see the movement of cars on the expressway, we see a squirrel busy replanting our garden, and we sense the changing of the day in the movement of light and shadows in our landscapes. But our brains work against us, against what we see. We assume, we almost have to assume, that our landscapes are static. How could we function in landscapes that move, that change, that transform? How could we behave as the instrumental beings we are, or believe ourselves to be, in a landscape lacy with melancholy, neither forged nor knitted, only a wisp of colored smoke?



As part of our cognitive toolbox, as beings that "do" we hold a model of the landscape as something that accommodates us. We act in it or upon it. We are present in its present and we move through it to more presents. Like our planet we know it moves but we perceive the landscape as unmoving. How else can we work in it? The job of landscape is to be still, not to change, to provide a backdrop for our activities. But as a "present" landscape is perforce a moment, temporary and all-quiet, without fabric. Without fabric there is no texture and no time and in a heartbeat we realize the non-concreteness, the non-presence that is evidence of landscape.


12 comments:

  1. Wonderfully written essay! It makes me ponder what static and moving really means. Is there a difference? This blog post demonstrates that static isn’t always static, it is ultimately, moving. Therefore, static and moving form the real definition of the word landscape! -from Tess Velasquez, MET IS 380 Group 1 Student

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  2. Tess,
    I agree! That wisp can mean us, our brief presence here while time passes us by and the landscape around us continues on. It is so wonderfully written!

    Cheers!

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  3. We are all moving together, just at different speeds.

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  4. Static is a relative term. Nothing that we recognize as tangible objects are static. It might take million years to change the shape that can be recognizable by human's perception, but it is not static. This essay shows that everything is moving. Immediate tangible or recognizable movements are detected by us easily like squirrel playing around. Even the great monument that sits for hundreds of years is moving, wearing off by wind, rain and even by earth movements. Despite the differences in speed or appearance, they do move.

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  5. Great blog! Makes me realize that nothing is ever still or motionless. Whether we physically move ourselves or not we are still moving as the earth is in constant motion. Landscapes created as still life are nothing but a moment captured without existing movement. So much to think about!

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  6. The word "souvenir" also exists in French; literally translated it means "a memory". This post made total sense to me because we all take souvenir photos which are a moment in time. They remind us of an place, an emotion, or an experience. Anyone who has looked back at their own photos can easily see that nothing stays the same - we age, change shapes, change partners or interests, and change locations. Even the same locations change over time due to natural or human intervention. I believe this is what makes photography such an interesting field of work. Capturing the "right" moment that transmits an emotion based on something that no longer exists is some kind of magic.
    Kayali Lenssen-Spiller - IS380 - Group 1

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    1. It is our job as humans to synthesize ("Kant"), the ideas and the landscapes that surround us. Elements of this synthesis: landscape, time, light, gravity, matter, minds, lives and love all ending up in a synthesized product called experience. Would I think the same if I saw these pictures once again ten years from now? Why?

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  8. Wow; that was a mind bender. That being said, this post has me thinking about perpetual motion. Perpetual motion suggestion continuous movement without any external force. Of course, our build landscape moves and changes shape with deliberate external force, but the purer notion you mention in the blog, is less intrusive and more continuous, ever moving.

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  9. Just thinking of the movement of molecules and electrical currents in my brain to process this essay. Nothing is static

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  10. " The Butterfly Effect" now that is intense when we think of movement and changes in out world.

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  11. Beautifully written explanation. The geologic movements of the earth and the "human footprint" upon it, both evolve, but at dramatically different paces. After reading this article, I thought about how often I am aware of the movements of my environment's landscape. When I experienced an earthquake, or witnessed a local mudslide that demolished a house, it was in that moment that I acknowledged that the earth was not static.

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