Parallel Motion: Walden Pond, Concord / Central Park, New York

“New York is my Walden. I mean, you don\’t have to be in the middle of a forest, a countryside to be in nature”. Jonas Mekas
‘I’m a city boy. In the big cities they’ve set it up so you can go to a park and be in a miniature countryside, but in the countryside they don’t have any patches of big city, so I get very homesick”. Andy Warhol

In recent years our studio explored the iconography and scenography of the American landscape by separate studies of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park, New York and Henry Thoreau’s Walden, Concord. This year we invite our students to revisit both Central Park and Walden -not as separate exercises- but as a combined parallel project provoking a new synthesis and cross fertilisation between urban and nature. We will study and draw upon an illustrious potpourri of dissonant cultural influences including the musical scores of Charles Ives who composed evocative soundscapes inspired by both Central Park (Central Park in the Dark,1906) and Henry Thoreau’s Walden (Second Piano Sonata, subtitled Concord, Mass, 1909-15), the film Walden (Diaries, Notes and Sketches) by experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas which captures the urban jungle of vibrant New York – including scenes of leaves falling through Central Park, the first ever concert of the Velvet Underground and beatnik gatherings- shot during the years 1964-1968 whilst subtly alluding to Thoreau’s Walden. Land artist Robert Smithson (the ‘Thoreau of the junkyards’) who observed that Olmsted actually made ponds unlike Thoreau who just conceptualize about them (Frederick Law Olmsted and the dialectical Landscape, 1973) and omnipotent Rem Koolhaas -who recently rediscovered the countryside as the latest big thing- and earlier described Central Park in Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (1978) as “a taxidermic preservation of nature that exhibits forever the drama of culture, outdistancing nature: a synthetic Arcadian carpet, grafted onto grid” as well in his essay Junkspace (2002) envisions a ‘parallel Walden of enhanced air, water, wood in order to produce hyper-ecology’. The intent of the Parallel Motion studio is to reanimate landscape as cultural manifestation and visual experimentation. Central Park, New York and De-Central Park, Walden will become reborn as intertwined Siamese Twins. In order to test ideas and stimulate discourse the rectangular outline of Central Park will be super imposed on Walden whilst Walden’s ‘Shroud of Turin’ ghost image will be grafted on Central Park. Students will undertake extensive fieldwork both in Walden, Concord and Central Park, New York and are invited to design a double vision of site-specific parallel interventions with specific reference to Walden Pond and Central Park Reservoir.

Irregular Schedule:
GSD 1402 Parallel Motion: Walden Pond, Concord / Central Park, NY – Eelco Hooftman and Bridget Baines
Thursdays and Fridays 2 pm – 6 pm; Studio meets 8/29 (evening) and 8/30. Studio Field Trip to Walden 9/12 and 9/13; Studio Field Trip to NY 9/26 and 9/27. Skype reviews 10/31 and 11/1.