Patterns of landscape


(From previous issue No.37)

Attune to landscape

Defining landscape-character is an current issue of today’s landscape architecture, and encourage us (especially working on the field of regional development, landscape-planning, ~ history, ~ heritage management or ~evaluation) to redefine our main media, the landscape. It is not anymore only about the complexity of base-geology with land uses and infrastructural elements. We have to add an aesthetical description of its singularity and individuality. We need to illustrate the personality of landscape-characteristics as sensitively as describing one of our friend’s individuality.

Landscape Pattern Character and GoogleEarth graphical exercises in the GYIK-Studio for 3rd year LA Students

Landscape Pattern Character and GoogleEarth graphical exercises in the GYIK-Studio for 3rd year LA Students

The article starts with a short landscape-painting introduction, and then it will be followed by a case-study demonstrating the role of landscape patterns of a Transylvanian region.

Landscape-character in the history of landscape painting

The history of landscape painting notes those images, where the real character of landscape had been depicted: the wall of Siena city-hall meant to be the first image reflecting the late-mediaeval Tuscan agricultural landscape (The Allegory of Good and Bad Government, A. Lorenzetti, 1338); K. Witz turned the landscape scenery from the Holy land into a local Swiss view with the Mount Saléve by the Lake Geneva on the painting Miraculous Draft of Fishes (1444); the first photorealistic observation- drawing appear in renaissance (Leonardo da Vinci: Arno Vally, 1437; A. Dürer: Arco castle, 1495).

Three below mentioned painting of the 20th century in line with the issue of geographic ‘landscape- individuality’ reflect patterns in the landscape. The Mont Sainte- Victoire is a main topic for P. Cézanne, and on this late version (1904) the basic forms of the hillside and the settlement are transformed into an abstract landscape- texture of short repetitive vertical, horizontal and diagonal strips.

P. Cézanne: Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1904

P. Cézanne: Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1904

The aerial patterns observed from the airplanes became an abstract, non-figurative rhythm-image on the painting of P. Klee (Main Road and Side Roads, 1929). He recomposed the agricultural field-pattern into a perfect mathematical and musical masterpiece of clear proportions. The personality of landscape-organism (individum) is indiscerptible; so if we take into its parts (dividum) we only get singular enumeration, and we loose its character. His image is also declared as sociological issue of person and society, but can draw landscape architect’s attention of unique landscape pattern-combinations, which is the core of character assessments. The Hungarian landscape painting discovers these semi-aerial patterns at Szentendre Atelier (Barcsay J.: Szentendrei dombok, 1934), where side by side with the geographic-ethnographic landscape-theory of Teleki, the painting also depicted and emphasised the rural, local, vernacular features of scenic views.

Landscape-character in contemporary art

One of the new field in contemporary art is the ‘Map-Art’, where georeferred maps, aerial landscapes, spaces are represented in info-graphical visual coding. This field redefines our landscape perceptions with enhancing personal space-attachment, wayfinding, orientation, and war-issues. The books of C. Harmon list many of these artist (Nurit Gur-Lavy Karni, Joyce Kozloff, Sally Darlison, Mary Edna Fraser, Chase Langford, Peter Dykhuis, Jerry Gretzinger). The conclusion to landscape architect is that, we should deal more deeply with these personal factors and explore new pictorial representations of this complex content of maps+ views+ information and emotions.

To help student recognise the singularity of ‘landshape-patterns’ we developed various visual art methods on the Dept. of Garden Art at the Corvinus University Budapest. These personal visual filters are advised in basic landscape character assessment methods. The antroposophical approach also influenced our methods. Fast ink-sketches of GoogleEarth grasp the gestures and rhythms and patterns of organic water-landscape and geometrical agricultural land use, which are transformed into clay relief-models, and finally combined into visionary landscape- maps in group work. The methods had been adapted into kids-age with great success at the GYIKStudio of Hungarian National Gallery, were dozens of art activity is based on maps and landscape experience.

Uniqueness of landscape

In the history of Hungarian geographical theory Pál Teleki raises the issue of ‘character’ in the first row: “Grasping the typical characteristics of landscape put an edge on geographical description, … to bring the landscape-individuality into prominence, to highlight the typical differences and similarities of landscapes within each other is the main goal” In the first part of 20th century like holistic humangeographical groups (Humbold, Hettner, Schlüter, Hellpach) they also emphasise to connect as much factor as possible to the ‘life of landscape’. Dékány suggested to search for the geographical ‘singular individualities’, because landscape is ‘the complexity of local diversity’. Teleki refuse the classification of all landscape (country), instead concludes that ‘the smaller a landscape is, the larger is its individuality, and vica versa’. His follower F. Fodor support a ‘landscape-curriculum approach’ and underlines the importance of character:

“All landscape is a mosaic of the Creation. All natural landscape was born, when the geographic evidences joined in a unique relationship, which forcefully separated it from the neighbouring landscapes… An important phase in the landscape explanation is to recognize the distinctiveness of a certain land.”

This period (1910-40) reflected unequivocally an approach based on the complexity of unique landscape characters. It didn’t created categories or criteria for the whole country, rather only wanted to highlight how much some ethnographical regions differ from the average landscape characters.

This is still an issue in contemporary assessments, namely: All landscape can be describe with a landscape character, or are there more/less typical sites? What is the natural-organic size, where landscape character forms a unique, coherent, enclosed area?

/read the rest of this post in issue No.37/

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