The Technological Origins of Landscape

Historically, landscape theories have always emphasized the role of philosophical concepts in the rise of landscape. The (modern) self, subjectivity, particular ways to see and to frame the world have been put forward in order to explain the complexity of the phenomenon. The post-idealistic tradition (Joachim Ritter, Rosario Assunto, Alain Roger), the use of landscape in geographical discourse and the critical readings of landscape provided by Cosgrove or W.J.T. Mitchell among others all provide important subjectivistic and abstract interpretations of landscape. In their perspective, landscape is basically immaterial, something in the mind of people who experience a piece of nature at a certain moment.
The technological origins of landscape course intends to provide a different reading of landscape. It stresses the fundamental role of technology, of precise historical devices that literally shaped landscape throughout the centuries.
The starting point of this journey into the mostly unknown roots of landscape will be marked by the importance of frames, framing, specific techniques used in the early history of painting, the window, the grid and central perspective.
Another development is marked by the essential role of new optical devices: the microscope, the telescope, the camera obscura, the camera lucida, the Claude Glass, and early panoramic devices.
The third aspect presented and discussed is the impact of transport technologies and their point of view on our \’ways of seeing\’. The horse, the coach, the train, the car, and the airplane will be considered at length.
Photography, film, TV, and other contemporary devices will be analyzed in the final part of the seminar.