What Is This Book?

hands opening a book with plant specimens inside

By Inés Benítez Gómez (MDes ADPD ’19), Mariel Collard Arias (MLA, MDes RR ’19), Nicolás Delgado Álcega (MArch II ’20)

These boxes and book are the outcome of a semester-long search at the Arnold Arboretum focused on the complexities behind research on the field and the development of its corresponding methodologies.

The boxes are the documents that evidence our process: a non-linear path where experiences, ideas, questions, methods and answers emerge seemingly out of order; concurrently through a process of back and forth. Rather than organize the documents as one would in an archive, they are here more so arranged like one would a journal. The aim has been to collect our work in such a way that it allows us to constantly question the way we truly arrived to conclusions; not chronologically; not through the application of standardized procedures independent of the questions, where each new step implies blindly committing to its antecedent ones. The book is our attempt to elucidate our work to others; to bring it into the field of knowledge exchange in a format that effectively translates what has been rich about our process.

The book is organized in time and yet not in a true chronology; it represents relevant references, encounters and exercises, if not in their entirety, at least one to one; actual scale; just like we tried to approach the American Holly specimen that worked with us during the final stretch. It seeks to communicate the value of working on the field; with specimens rather than categories, paying attention to what can be perceived and understood then and there, before resorting to cameras, microscopes or model spaces…