Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

Machines and Gardens — Ideas, Readings (Ideen, Lesequellen)

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Marx, Leo (1964).  The Machine in the Garden.  Oxford University Press.

Pollan, Michael (2008). “Beyond Wilderness and Lawn” in Nature, Landscape and Building for Sustainability:  A Harvard Design Magazine Reader, edited by Howard Saunders and Robert Thayer, Jr.  University of Minnesota Press:  Minneapolis, Chapter 6.

Williams, Raymond (1980).  “Ideas of Nature,” in Problems in Materialism and Culture. London:  Verso:  67 – 85.

‘Nature is a word that contains a lot of history’–Raymond Williams details changing ideas of nature and society in his essay based on a 1980 lecture in England.   In the US, Leo Marx and Michael Pollan reveal the contradictions or tensions that have driven the American relationship to nature throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.  Marx uses the metaphor of the machine in the garden to express the intrusion of technology (industrialization particularly as represented by the train) into an agrarian pastoralism in the 19th century as taken up in literature and painting.  In the contemporary moment, Pollan discusses the way gardening is underdeveloped in the American cultural imaginary and in frontyard practice as a result of the way Americans tend to cling to the conflicting ideals of both the ‘wilderness’ and the perfect front lawn.

In the 21st century, the collapse of heavy industry (like steel and coal) in some regions, the rise of sustainability as a concept and practice, the increasing manifestations of a changing and warming global climate and new technologies related to plant physiology have motivated a reconsideration of the relationship between nature and culture and renewed attempts to find a middle ground or third way between the extremes of  romantic wildness and industrial domination.

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„Natur ist ein Wort, das viel Geschichte beinhaltet” –  schreibt Raymond Williams in einem Aufsatz (basierend auf einem Vortrag von 1980 in England) über die sich ständig im Wandel befindende Konzepte von Natur und Gesellschaft. In den USA legen Leo Marx und Michael Pollan die Widersprüche oder Spannungen offen, die das amerikanische Verhältnis zur Natur im 19. Und 20. Jahrhundert geprägt haben. Marx bedient sich der Metapher der „Maschine im Garten“ um das Eindringen von Technologie (speziell der Industrialisierung, repräsentiert durch die Eisenbahn) in einen landwirtschaftlichen Pastoralismus zu beschreiben, der im 19. Jahrhundert besonders durch die Malerei und Literatur aufgegriffen wurde. Und Michael Pollan erörtert wie Ideen des Gartenbaus in der aktuellen kulturellen Vorstellung in den USA unterentwickelt sind, dadurch, daß sich die Amerikaner nicht von den widersprüchlichen Idealen der „Wilderness“ und des perfekten Rasens im Vorgarten trennen können.

Im 21. Jahrhundert haben der Verfall der Schwerindustrie (wie z.B. Kohle und Metall) in einigen Regionen, das Konzept und die Praxis der Nachhaltigkeit, Klimaveränderungen und neue Techniken im Bereich der Pflanzenphysiologie eine nochmalige Betrachtung  der Beziehung zwischen Natur und Kultur motiviert und erneute Versuche inspiriert, einen Mittelgrund zu finden zwischen den Extremen der romantischen Wildnis und industrieller Dominanz.

NSG Exposé, Juli 2011

Friday, July 1st, 2011

A proposal for a possible installation of the National Security Garden (German language only): NSG_expose_Juli2011.pdf (11.5MB)

Garden design sketches

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Ornamental shape for the soybean patch inspired by formal geometries found in formal gardens. The sketch also shows a projected text (with real-time information pertinent to the garden) onto the mist created by the gardens irrigation system. The projected real time information can reveal growing conditions as well as political news.

The important question in the design is when does a field become a garden? I.e. how ornamental do the shapes of the soybean patches need to be. And if they are ornamental what influences the final shape of the patch?

When does a field become a garden?

Friday, February 4th, 2011

This is an important question for determining the visual features of the National Security garden, a hybrid between field and garden. And beyond visual features, shapes and plant arrangements it is important to consider the role technology and science play in possible answers to this question.

Technology and Science play an important role in both, gardens and fields but are used for quite different purposes:

  • in the field: to create higher yields (plant domestication, genetically modified plants, irrigation systems, etc.)
  • in the garden: to create certain aesthetic results (genetically modified plants, see blue carnation), express an ideology/political power (historically in formal gardens) or represent unique aspects of a geo-political region (Landes-/Bundesgartenschau)

An interesting case in which a garden became a field (fruit and vegetable garden) was the Tiergarten in Berlin designed in the 1830s by landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné. After WW2, in order to provide food for the starved Berlin population, parts of the garden were turned into vegetable patches:

Archiv für Kunst und Geschichte, Berlin: Berlin, Sommer 1946. Direkt vor dem Brandenburger Tor wird Kohl und Gemüse angebaut. (http://217.9.47.167/spip.php?article25&var_nav_month=05&var_nav_year=2005, accessed, February 4, 2011).

There is also a Wochenschau clip from 1946 “Gemüseanbau im Berliner Tiergarten” (Videochronik 1939-1975; [Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur und Soziales] moderiert v. U. Wickert, 36 Kassetten, je 45 Min. (D: MGV 1993-1995) I 615.586/1-37)