Dioramic Modes in Landscape Architecture

This seminar/workshop explores the practical and theoretical potential of the diorama as a robust set of representational operations in the design and description of landscape architecture.The course will begin with an examination of the conventions of the diorama\’s construction and imaging techniques, and related topics (still-life painting, Wunderkabinetts, panoramas, stereography, the zoopraxinoscope and zoetrope, etc.), as historically developed in its special relationship to landscape representation and its ephemeral/material qualities. Subsequently, we will develop \’dioramic modes\’ that operate critically within this particular metaphoric visual discourse in order to advance a representational process that may be applied in the design studio curriculum. Emphasis will be placed on the interface of analog and digital media (for example, programs such as 3D Studio Max may be understood as a virtual derivation of traditional diorama techniques), and on the role of photomontage as both a facile means of producing multiple studies, and a visualization technique in its own right.We will alternate weeks of reading/discussion/presentation with pin-up critiques of actual representational explorations. There will be a field trip to the Harvard Forest Diorama Collection (because of driving time, we may need to schedule this separately from our regular meeting time) and, around mid-semester, students will work in groups informally to present digital applications as they relate to the conventions of the diorama. The first production assignments will be devoted to each student\’s autobiographical relationship to the landscape. Technical processes developed in this initial exploration will then be tested in the context of the design studio for the remainder of the semester.Course Requirements:Completion of required readings, participation in class discussions and informal group presentations of digital applications; individual production of diorama studies and final product(s), with a short paper (footnoted with bibliography) describing both the techniques, and their theoretical underpinnings, developed by the student; all production material is due five days before the non-studio grade submission deadline.Enrollment:Limit of 14 students from any design department or other design affiliation.