Day 15 of #100dayproject: Waterscapes

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The relationship between the humanity and the water is ancient like the Earth itself. However, the societies had different feelings about it influence in their lives and infrastructure.

In general, Western Societies tend to categorize views as “natural” if the landscape content is predominantly vegetation and water, and if man-made features such as buildings and cars are absent or inconspicuous, as for example Llanquihue Lake in Chile[1]. This depiction of the wilderness illustrates humans’ deeply ambivalent relationship with nature which oscillates between romantic devotion to nature and attempts to conquer it[2]. And far too much of what passes for ecologically sensitive urban planning amounts to little more than a concession to trendiness and to that bourgeois aesthetics that likes to enhance the urban with a bit of green, a dash of water, and a glimpse of sky[3].

In a study performed in Sweden, subjects were exposed to lengthy color-slide presentations of either (1) nature dominated by trees and other vegetation, (2) nature with water, or (3) Scandinavian urban settings without vegetation or water[4]. Results from self-ratings of feelings made immediately before and after the presentations indicated that exposure to the two categories of natural scenes, especially water, had more positive influences on subjects’ emotional states[5].

The urban design has had echoes of that studies and they had adapted the “nature” to the urban spaces. One form to adapt the nature is the use of water elements into Recreation Landscapes, it does mean, destinations for commoditized play: Festival markets, themed waterfronts, and theme parks along with major stadia for spectator sport.

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The alienation of large segments of parkland for activities requiring entry fees has changed many of Lima’s passive recreation landscapes, like the Water Park in Miraflores with a full color light spectacle and traditional/modern music show, as we see in the picture above. This park creates a disneyfication effect in the city[6].

The decision of the pertinence of the “thematic parks” is completely of the reader, and this aspect is a responsibility for the residents and decision-makers. The trends in research place emphasis on community participation in identifying open space requirements, on the need for interconnectivity between spaces and communication routes, especially walking and cycling paths and the complex use of space, for example for water sensitive urban design and wildlife corridors[7].

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Day 14 of #100dayproject: Media landscapes and Instagram phenomenon.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Real Life Instagram and Refinery 29 Magazine

Real Life Instagram[1] is an art project by Brazilian designer Bruno Ribeiro that involves filters, hash-tags, and like buttons only it’s happening in the real world, not on your smartphone[2]. Ribeiro makes cardboard frames, complete with all the symbols and buttons you’re used to, adds a sheet of colored cellophane to mimic the filter, and sticks them in snap-worthy places around London and Manchester[3].

We could call this artist’s urban intervention a landscape? This is a very interesting question, because Instagram and the social networks are changing the way as we see and feel our urban landscape. According the landscape researcher J. Rekittke, through the continuing estrangement of technologically advanced nations from their natural environment and the intensive consumption of visual media, landscapes are very often perceived in a filtered form primed by the media[4].

The valiance of such perception of landscapes at the moment in which an observer identifies or interprets something as a landscape, a landscape is present in the mind of the observers and therefore exists. So, Instagram reveals a very ancient dream of people: modify our reality as we see in our minds, with colored filters and little details who makes special our cities or our social lives.

PROJETO Recortes Urbanos II. Video-wall in São Paulo Avenues

Sometimes the art makes that effect too. The Chilean artist Waldo Bravo, in their artwork called “Urban Scraps”, substituted the real landscape with photographs intervened by him in a big format, like advertising cartels, at Sao Paulo. His proposal was the intention to make a parallel between the reality and the representation: “The image, to merge into the landscape, causes self-quenching, the denial of self-image. At the point of greatest perfection of the work / environment relationship, it refuses itself, hides its mechanisms, its materiality makes it transparent.”[5]

Not everyone can read the work of Waldo Bravo, and not everyone is able to unravel the mechanisms that lie behind the discourses that construct reality. It requires an attentive reader to be able to determine what the limits of reality and its relation to the representation so as to effect the discovery and interpretation his Urban Scraps.

Usually, the Artists use lies to tell the truth. In the both cases above the artists show us the landscapes, but with a different focus. The use of Instagram’s filters and those intervened urban spaces, makes serious thoughts about what is the role of the observer, and even more: the role of landscape researcher. In our next researches we must ask ourselves: Should we put the photographs with the Natural filter or with Nashville filter? Must we put the complete picture or the fusion of reality or imagination? Is the Environmental Impact Evaluation a contemporary tool for the appraisal/evaluation of urban landscapes?

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