Journal Significant Details 10-19

My site is not a specific place, but a path that moves through a few places.  It moves  across the railroad tracks, around Fort Washington Park, next to the empty lot where the Reardon Soap Factory used to be located, and down Putnam Ave.  I think that the relationships between these different places are really interesting.  During the lighting assignment review, a question was asked wondering if the photos in the set were all from the same site.  I have been fighting with this problem.  Fort Washington Park is the place that I have been writing about.  It is easier to define as a place and images taken in the park work together as a set.  They obviously relate to each other and build off of each other.  But, I think that the surrounding places are important in that they make Fort Washington Park what it is.  Its context of the Grand Junction Railroad, the empty lot, and the warehouses make the fenced-in green park a curious anomaly in that area.

For my significant detail set, I finally decided to use photos that were solely of the park.  I felt they worked cohesively in telling one story and were able to build off each other.  The color palette and textures are consistent.  I still think it is important to show the context.  I am thinking ahead to our photo essay, and I think that it will allow me to tell an itinerant story that shows the contrasts between these places that overlap and abut each other.  These overlaps are what attracted me to this place to begin with.  In The Language of Landscape, the section on the Principles of Grammar illustrates this point perfectly.  There are these elements, in the book they are the lines of a grid and the movement, which together serve function and meaning.  Elements of landscape, such as paths, lines, boundaries, and points, are just words, until they are positioned next to other words to form a sentence.  A sentence is made out of the relationship of words, how they are put together.  “Flowing, water, grid, path, boundary, and source (and the streets, drains, and fountains they comprise) pose potential relationships, suggesting combinations, permitting union, or promoting integration.  Paths as lines of movement are potential links between disparate entities — people, animals, water.  Grids and axes, both structured by points and lines, have potential to coincide or intersect…” (p170).  The overlapping of various elements on my site create very interesting intersections.  The intersection of the path that crosses the railroad tracks as it dead-ends into the park and turns into a circular path.  Coming around this corner late at night, I have had quiet some experiences.  I have been surprised by rabbits, dodged other bikers, and a few times come very close to a moving train, even though the bells were not ringing.  When it rains, the gravel paths become incredibly muddy, a reminder that the earth there was once salt marsh.

I found the section on “nested structure” to be very interesting.  In studio, I am always trying to remind myself to work at three scales;  to zoom in and out between the scale of a human, a group of people, and a city.  The relationship of part to whole in landscape is something that I often forget.  It is not about the single fruit, or the single tree, or the whole forest, but it is about all of these things, and how they work together to create something.  It is like an orchestra.  My conductor would always tell us that our chair (which was a very competitive thing) didn’t matter.  Every seat is important, as every note and every rest is important.  You are all equally important to the music as a whole, for if even one of you was missing, it would not be the same piece, he would tell us.  Every detail is needed to make up a whole, and every whole is needed to make up a larger whole.

This also reminds me of where I grew up as a kid.  We lived on a little stream that we would go canoeing in.  It was shallow, and slow moving, so my mother felt we were safe paddling around up and down, between the bridge by our house and the fallen tree that prevented us from going any further.  On hot summer days, we would drive about ten minutes away to go swimming in a lake with a proper sand beach.  I would catch hermit crabs and bring them home for my fish tank, and I would always be heartbroken when I learned the next day that they had eaten my fish.  Other times, like my birthday, we would go to Maudsley State Park and have a picnic by the water.  The River here was really big and had boats in it.  My mom thought it was beautiful, but I would rather climb the trees.  I enjoyed all three of these completely different experiences, never knowing how much they were related.  Little did I know that the little stream by my house connected to Lake Gardner, where I swam in the summer, and eventually became the grande Merrimac River.

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