Landscape Poetics: 11-02

For this set of images ‘Poetics,’ I wanted to move outside of the park.  Since my ‘Significant Details’ told the story of the park, I wanted to start to give clues about the park’s context.  The surrounding area is just as odd as the park itself.  I think the juxtaposition of these two types of landscape is really interesting:  the park is like a little jewel, locked up and sitting within a forgotten landscape.  The park is soft and green, with rolling hills and two gates: a heavy iron and granite gate, and a grande shaded gate of trees, both constantly cared for.  The surrounding area is grey and hard, made of asphalt, dirt, and steel with a gate of metal chains and bent poles.  I think that paradox and irony play into this image set, especially when paired with my last image set.  It doesn’t seem like the two sets of images are taken in the same location, but they are.
note: I have used the word ‘nature’ throughout the journal.  After this week’s reading from The Language of Landscape, I feel obligated to discuss this word briefly.  I thought this section, Polemical Landscapes, was interesting, especially the discussion of the meaning of the word ‘nature.’  It is a word that I use too freely.  “Tensions and contradictions in landscape architecture also stem from the intellectual biases and unresolved conflicts among the disciplines it draws from…” (p 244).  My site has a serious of landscape situated within one another: The park is a constructed landscape that aims to continually restore the earth embankments, which are man-made lumps of dirt.  These used to be at the edge of the Charles River, which is now a dirt path that often floods.  There is a constructed, forgotten landscape of man, consisting of a parking lot and warehouse buildings.  This sits within the landscape of engineering or the railroad tracks.  But where does nature come in?  Is nature in the park, evidenced by living things, such as grass and trees?  Or is nature in the man-made parking lot, evidenced by processes of nature, such as the cracking of the asphalt from freezing winters and warming summers?  Or is nature the overgrown railroad tracks and muddy paths?
[image 01]
green grass, a blanket of yellow leaves in the background.  the rhythm of the protective and defining fence.  But something is strange… what landscape is this?  Grey tufts are strewn through the grass, popping up from the ground intermittently across the hill.  They are odd and don’t seem to belong.  A slight breeze blows and they change shape, trying to pull away from the grass that has a hold on them.  Light, fuzzy, warm.  A coat.  But who’s coat?
The fuzz balls are an anomaly.  They aren’t part of the landscape and they cause questions in the viewer’s mind.  But, what is interesting about them to me is that they refer to the life of the park, which is otherwise not shown.  The fur is a remnant of a visitor… a dog, and his owner.  You can imagine the dog playing catch, and his owner brushing his long grey and white mane.  So, it is a part to the whole, a synecdoche perhaps.  The slight hill informs you of the rest of the landscape, the rhythmic fence that moves across the background is a part that stands for the complete enclosure, and the fur stands for all the dogs that come to play in the park.
[image 02]
Moving outside of the fence and beyond the manicured landscape of the park, you find a landscape that is instead “natural,” or lets say “wild.”  After days of rain, the gravel has washed away from parts of the bike path, leaving behind only dirt and leaves.  The ground is marked with the imprints of tires that have passed over the surface since the last rainfall.
This photo also shows synecdoche.  The dirt path with imprints of bike tires gives the sense of a larger trail that bicyclists are following.  It allows you to infer that it is a heavily travelled path because there are many tracks layered into the dirt.  The different leaves hint at the surrounding foliage of the park and the different types of trees that are growing there.
[image 03]
A landscape littered in fallen leaves, dirt, puddles of water… What appears to be a flooded path, but, upon closer inspection is overgrown railroad tracks.  These tracks haven’t been used in years.  The grass is growing over them, a slow process that takes time.  If it hadn’t rained, you probably wouldn’t even notice the tracks, for it is only the reflection off the water on the metal that highlights them.  A forgotten path, this image plays against the previous image that is layered with use.
[image 04]
A corner, a boundary.  Two gates, chains to keep you out.  Concrete bumpers on the ground can’t keep the leaves from crossing. A blanket of leaves across a forgotten asphalt ground, where the soap factory used to be.  Along the back edge of the lot, more concrete bumpers.
A paradox: a ground built by man, leveled ground, fences, a shed… but not cared for.  Built and then left behind to be taken over by the wind and the rain.  Behind me, a park, “natural” in that it is a landscape of the earth, dirt, grass, and trees.  This landscape is cared for and therefor thrives.
[image 05]
Manmade objects that look like they have been through a hurricane.  A wall that is smashed and bend and twisted.  A door, paint peeled and wood rotting.  A wooden crate, ripped apart, twisted, held together by a few remaining nails.  Concrete Jersey barriers, tagged, scratched, and eroded.
[thoughts on essay]
This set isn’t as Surreal as some of my past images.  I want to keep the feeling of the surreal for my site.  I think that the use of emphasis, framing, and exaggeration will help to keep that feeling alive in my essay.  Those rhetorical devices, though, seem like they aren’t enough to tell the story of my site.  I have tried to introduce synecdoche in order to allude to the rest of the site.  In thinking ahead to my photo essay, I think that I will be pairing most of my images, in order to juxtapose differing qualities of the site.  I have tried to photograph through the site to show its layers, but I have not been successful in doing so.  The only successful photo was the one from last week with the shadow of the park projected onto the construction site.


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