University of Tasmania
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Mapping ruderality: Heading for design

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posted on 2023-05-26, 03:57 authored by Christmas , S
A newly acquired property in the Tamar Valley prompted the research, Mapping ruderality: heading for design. With ownership comes a natural inclination to make change, to imprint one's mark on the land. In order to inform decision‚ÄövÑv™making and to maximize understanding of this new place called home, my research maps the cultural and natural phenomena of the site and its surrounds as a direct response to prevailing concerns. Working at the interface of art and design, one informs the other, setting the conditions for change. Although the focus is on a particular parcel of land ‚Äö- a ruderal landscape of dilapidated timber sheds and rampant blackberries, neglected for many years since its pioneering, productive past ‚Äö- the modus operandi (mapping and hermeneutics) may be applied more generally. Inspired, in part, by landscape architect James Corner, hermeneutics is presented as a means to counter the demise of substantive landscape design. The evolving art of mapping, from navigation to conceptualisation, is considered through its complementary parts ‚Äö- scale, projection, triangulation, toponomy, grids. Together, mapping and hermeneutics interpret the microcosm of the former orchard and its extended relationships in the valley. Traditional cartography has influenced the method which often presents as phenomenological or absorptive mapping. Hermeneutic enquiry allows for open interpretation, for an understanding of the whole by reference to its individual parts, and vice versa. Overall, the works constitute a 'bringing to attention' of site conditions, which we are compelled to modify and control (owning, naming, limiting, exploiting). The process is informed predominantly by the works of Janet Laurence, Maya Lin, Fujiko Nakaya, Anne Wilson and Julie Mehretu, all of whom offer new readings of landscape as an expression of ideas and a way into design. An alternative cartographic practice which infuses rational, detached observation with the subjectivity of experience takes cues from the ruderal state to engage with current issues in land use and design, and augments the tradition of map‚ÄövÑv™making in place‚ÄövÑv™making. Graticules and rhumb lines of individual works converge in a larger exploratory grid to reveal the distortions, biases, influences and ambiguities that are inherent in the project of mapping. Together hermeneutics and mapping locate the research specifically here, and, at a remove, should be comprehended as (anywhere) there.


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