M[ont]agic Operations in Landscape Spatiality

Contemporary philosophical, design and cultural criticism recognize the phenomenon of \”montage\” as a visual discourse particularly analogous to the disjunctive and heterogeneous relational qualities of our current global community. An understanding of situated heterogeneity now supplants an enduring epistemological and ontological framework represented by synoptic rationalism, with a complex framework represented by the multiple \'viewpoints\' of intuition and accident. It is important that the conceptualization of landscape phenomena and spatiality recognize this contemporary cultural model. To \”montage\” in the landscape design process is a critical technique of assemblage and relationship that engages both representational methods (imaging) of landscape, and the construction of landscape itself. No single projective system controls montage spatiality.The contextual condition of landscape, its premises, establish it as special ground for \”montagic\” operations. Landscape spatiality is perpetually contextual in its openness to continual phenomenal change, through its interdependence with meteorological, geomorphological, ecological, climatic, biological, and cultural forces. Montage techniques and strategies depend upon re-presentation, depend upon the survival of an identifiable, durable correspondence of signifier/signified during the process of abstraction. In representational terms, the primary material of montage is photographic in nature. Montage constructs an alternative visual discourse through operations usurping a cultural recognition of identifiable fragments within new relationships. This course will consider the meanings and applications of \”montagic\” operations for landscape architecture design and description in both analog and digital media through operational topics such as \”framing,\” \”cutting,\” \”blurring,\” and \”folding.\” It will also examine how developing digital technologies are expanding and changing the understanding of montage in the wider context of landscape representation (potential landscape) as cultural production. The smoothing out, or resolution, of difference allowed by digital representational programs suggests that a neologism may be required to redefine montagic operations in the particular context of landscape design and description. One question this course asks is \”Might there be a way to recognize \”insertion\” operating through montage in designed landscapes that acknowledges both intervention in context (through difference), and negotiation of a sustainable exchange with natural and cultural processes (through mutuality)?\” Other questions consider the role of the medium itself. For example, according to Walter Benjamin, mechanical reproduction robs art/photography of its \”auratic\” or unique and authored quality. In the context of landscape description, how then might the use of, say, photographic fragments of natural textures exposed to situation, and then resituated within a new context (the design proposal), invert Benjamin\'s interpretation, paradoxically reinstating an aspect of the \”auratic\” to the landscape project by means of mechanical reproduction. In this case, the phenomenon of \”witnessing\” provided by photographic reproduction overrides the subjective, interpretive gesture of the drawing: it is considered to be more real.The course is structured through alternating and interdependent theoretical discussions, and practical applications through drawing and model making. These individual representational responses to critical discussions and case studies will be reviewed in pin-up format every other week. There are no prerequisites, although familiarity with intermediate level analog and digital representational strategies is strongly suggested. Class enrollment is open to students of all design disciplines.Class enrollment limit: 14