In the first couple of weeks of the class you were all asked to visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s exhibition, The Artful Recluse: Painting, Poetry, and Politics in 17th-Century China, and write down your impressions of one or a select number of landscape paintings. Understanding that you were “new” to Chinese art, this was simply an exercise in looking-getting you to absorb the images and reflect upon them in a way that could be personal and subjective.
Now that we are approaching the end of the quarter, you are going to revisit the exhibition, though (unfortunately) through the catalogue and its printed images and text rather than through a personal visit, as the paintings have moved on to New York (the exhibition will open March 5 at the Asia Society, on Park Avenue). Two catalogues are on reserve in the Arts Library. For your writing assignment, consider your original papers and write a kind of sequel, this time looking at the exhibition’s paintings from a more informed perspective. You are free to write about the same painting(s) that you dwelled on in your original paper, but you are also free to look beyond and write about another painting if you feel that your first impressions were too limited. Choose one or two paintings at most and write about it with a more “informed perspective,” which you should have acquired from the past eight weeks of taking the course. Choose some aspect of what you have learned-it could be about the relationship between text and image, about spirituality, about references to the past, about the role of specific motifs and composition… Feel free to use any of the paintings that we have already discussed in class or learned about from the readings for comparative purposes. Provide illustrations to your paper.
Rather, the focus should be on what you have to say based on your analysis and thoughts. Be succinct.
In the final analysis, landscape architects of the twenty-first find that they have an immense amount to learn about their discipline from the ways of life and symbiotic relationship with nature that have been known and practised by indigenous and nomadic peoples for several millennia. A landscape architect might indeed conclude that buried within this intimate and intricate relationship with nature are the ideal principles with which to compensate the rapacious appetite for and consumption of the environment by modern industrial society. At the heart of the indigenous and nomadic attitude to nature are the concepts of ‘balance’ and ‘equilibrium’: it is by these principles that mankind may continue to enjoy the bountiful fruits of nature without exhausting her ability to produce them. It is this exhaustive, relentless and apparently inexorable ‘taking from nature’ by our economies and cultures without returning anything to nature that has disturbed the delicate balance cherished by indigenous and nomadic peoples. Nonetheless, it is impossible for our age to dispense with the sophisticated technologies and industries that we have developed and to return to a state of indigenous lifestyle; what is needed is to create an architectural philosophy of design that fuses the simplicity and balance of the indigenous relationship with nature, with the technological advances of our own age. The duty and responsibility of the twenty-first century landscape architect is to produce designs and structures that bring these two philosophies together. It is therefore essential that landscape architects work intimately with scientists, ecologists, botanists, businessmen and others so as to bring the greatest amount of environmental consideration and reflection to the development of a particular site or project. By convening all of the particular parties interested in a site in this way, a dialogue may be opened between them and therefore the greatest hope arises that action will be implemented to guarantee the environmental health of a site. It must always be in his mind that as the world races towards the environmental ‘tipping-point’ of no return, that this responsibility upon the landscape architect is a heavy one. The realization of such ambitious landscape architecture has begun with the works of James Corner, Sebastian Marot and Mark Treib.