Architecture AND Landscape: Beyond the Magic Diagram

Alessandra Ponte

Reviewed by David L. Hays

22 Mar 2016

So far it has been hypoth­e­sized that all art is based on a qua­ter­nary struc­ture where two terms are anal­o­gous­ly equal to two oth­er terms […] there are a num­ber of vari­a­tions with­in this four-part struc­ture. We might call this the matrix of log­ic modes con­trol­ling the mak­ing of art.

Jack Burn­ham, The Struc­ture of Art, 19731

It is not the ele­ments or the sets which define the mul­ti­plic­i­ty. What defines it is the AND, as some­thing which has its place between the ele­ments or between the sets. AND, AND, AND ¬ stammering.

Gilles Deleuze and Claire Par­net, A con­ver­sa­tion: What is it? What is it for?,” 19772

Archi­tect Pierre Thibault’s oeu­vre inter­ro­gates the inter­ac­tions, bound­aries and inter­faces link­ing archi­tec­ture and land­scape. Some­times archi­tec­ture is there to frame the land­scape. A vil­la on a plateau acts as a belvedere over the expanse of one of Quebec’s immense rivers. A house turns its back to the road and extends its arms to embrace and focus the view on an inti­mate bay on the shore of a lake. The vol­umes of a coun­try house, in the act of bridg­ing an uneven topog­ra­phy, design a tele­scope that sug­gests the zoom­ing of the gaze on far hori­zons. Win­dows strate­gi­cal­ly nar­rowed to the size of ver­ti­cal or hor­i­zon­tal splits restrict the view to rib­bons of land­scape adroit­ly carved out of the sur­round­ing scenery. Immense glass walls act as almost invis­i­ble thresh­olds between inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or landscapes.

Now and again, land­scape is used to frame archi­tec­ture. The tim­ber walls of a house in a for­est are glimpsed among the branch­es of decid­u­ous trees and conifers. Aus­tere vol­umes, intense­ly white or stark black, are strik­ing­ly posed against glar­ing win­ter land­scapes, or set amidst the exquis­ite greens of pas­toral sum­mer scener­ies. A high promon­to­ry offers a perch­ing place for a nest-like shel­ter. Most often, how­ev­er, in the work of Pierre Thibault archi­tec­ture and land­scape pro­vide a set­ting for each oth­er in a syn­chron­ic con­cep­tu­al and actu­al movement.

Land­scape, besides, may sur­rep­ti­tious­ly enter or lit­er­al­ly over­run archi­tec­ture. The waters of a stream come lap­ping at the foun­da­tions of a vil­la set in a wood­ed area sur­round­ed by paths cov­ered with moss­es. A tree­top pierces the can­tilevered pro­lon­ga­tion of a roof. Stones, belong­ing to the site, step up to the house in an uneven path and merge with the wood­en deck at the entrance. Coarse tree trunks become rus­tic columns or pilasters. The same trunks, sawed in small­er sec­tions, are read­able as sculp­tures. Trans­formed into seat­ing places or cof­fee tables, they punc­tu­ate inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or spaces. A frag­ile mos­qui­to screen assures the com­fort of a lazy, con­tem­pla­tive after­noon in a veran­da-like space.

In turn, archi­tec­ture can sub­tly mark or light­ly set down on the land­scape, mak­ing it inhab­it­able for a fleet­ing moment.

Atelier Pierre Thibault, “Les Jardins flottants” [The Floating Gardens].

White sheets, hang­ing from poles, flut­ter in the wind and draw wav­ing lines in mutat­ing land­scapes of grass, sand, and water.

Atelier Pierre Thibault, “Territoires habités” [Inhabited Territories].

Hun­dreds of flit­ter­ing can­dles trace ephemer­al grids or strange con­stel­la­tions on the sur­faces of iced lakes at night.

Atelier Pierre Thibault, “Les Jardins d’hiver” [The Winter Gardens].

Tents, per­form­ing as shel­ter and as lanterns, design lines on the crest of snowy hills against the back­drop of the dark, naked branch­es of trees in win­ter, or drift gra­cious­ly in vast watery scenes tint­ed in the most ten­der greys, pinks, and blues at the begin­ning of spring.

Atelier Pierre Thibault, “Les Jardins d’hiver” [The Winter Gardens].

Atelier Pierre Thibault, “Les Jardins d’été” [The Summer Gardens].

Tiny gar­dens of stones, grass­es, drift­woods or lights are con­tained in float­ing cubes mys­te­ri­ous­ly emerg­ing out of cre­pus­cu­lar mists.

Atelier Pierre Thibault, “Les Jardins flottants” [The Floating Gardens].

The tire­less ques­tion­ing and explor­ing of the rela­tions link­ing land­scape and archi­tec­ture in Pierre Thibault’s work con­sis­tent­ly chal­lenges the lim­its between the domains of archi­tec­ture, land­scape archi­tec­ture, land art, per­for­mance art, and instal­la­tion art. Thibault is clear­ly not just test­ing the bor­ders between those dis­ci­plines and arts but also freely and cre­ative­ly bor­row­ing from each field. He qui­et­ly names archi­tects and artists who, unsur­pris­ing­ly, have inspired and influ­enced his work. In archi­tec­ture, among the mas­ters, Thibault cites Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Luis Bar­ra­gan, Alvar Aal­to, Gun­nar Asplund, and Frank Lloyd Wright, while in the con­tem­po­rary scene he points to Peter Zumthor, Sou Fuji­mo­to, Saana, and Ate­lier Bow Wow togeth­er with Go Hasegawa. As for the arts, he lists Wal­ter de Maria, James Tur­rell, Richard Ser­ra, Richard Long, Don­ald Judd, Carl André, Joseph Beuys, and the abstract paint­ings of Richard Mill, a Québé­cois artist overt­ly influ­enced by the min­i­mal­ism and the land art of the 1970s. As stat­ed, Thibault’s list­ing of favorite artists and archi­tects should not sur­prise even the most super­fi­cial observ­er of his work: all of them dis­play pre­cise­ly the same keen aware­ness of the fluc­tu­at­ing, unsta­ble bor­ders reg­u­lat­ing the rela­tions between built and un-built, land and art, land­scape and archi­tec­ture. Nev­er­the­less, Thibault’s work, even if recog­nis­ably root­ed in estab­lished prac­tices, has not been received with­out con­tro­ver­sies, main­ly in the cas­es of his tem­po­rary installations.

Par­tic­u­lar­ly telling is the case of the Win­ter Gar­dens real­ized at Charlevoix in 2001, for which Thibault received two archi­tec­tur­al awards despite the doubts artic­u­lat­ed by mem­bers of the juries — one Cana­di­an, the oth­er Amer­i­can — respon­si­ble for con­fer­ring the prizes. Here are some of the remarks of the Cana­di­an jury:

Beth Kapus­ta: This was a very prob­lem­at­ic project for me […] its essen­tial­ly poet­ic pro­gram bears only the respon­si­bil­i­ty of cre­at­ing delight, exempt from the fun­da­men­tal respon­si­bil­i­ties of archi­tec­ture to pro­vide firm­ness” and com­mod­i­ty.” Maybe I’m being a stick­ler for def­i­n­i­tions, but that puts it in the realm of art” for me, and some­how I feel it’s unfair to judge art and archi­tec­ture by the same measures. […]

Mario Saia: This project in unclas­si­fi­able! It is nei­ther archi­tec­ture nor land­scape archi­tec­ture, nei­ther land art nor instal­la­tions nor per­for­mance. Why pigeon-hole every­thing when the com­mon con­cern is always that of inhab­i­ta­tion?3

Sim­i­lar obser­va­tions punc­tu­ate the debate of the Amer­i­can jury:

Hani Rashid: So we are endors­ing a land art project?

Mark Rob­bins: Yes.

Deb­o­rah Berke: If it’s made by an archi­tect, what we’re also endors­ing is the fact that archi­tects can look to make their spec­u­la­tions and inter­ven­tions beyond the lim­its of buildings. […]

Nathalie de Vries: It is not arty, because it actu­al­ly inves­ti­gates archi­tec­tur­al stuff – like per­spec­tive and scale – and it’s not so much about metaphors.

Mark Rob­bins: Whether this was done by artists or archi­tects doesn’t change our appre­hen­sion of the work and how it gets us to think about the sea­sons. These are always odd kinds of bound­aries to define.

Hani Rashid: I think the blind bound­aries thing is impor­tant for the whole awards pro­gram. We were ask­ing ear­li­er, why are there no parks; where does urban design start and end? And here we have it in build­ings and land­scape.4

The pal­pa­ble under­cur­rent of anx­i­ety in the above com­men­taries reflects a spe­cif­ic, and trou­bling, moment in time when the field of archi­tec­ture, after sev­er­al decades of self-inflict­ed auton­o­my, was enter­ing a phase of expan­sion. Con­sid­er­ing this shift in the realm of archi­tec­ture, Antho­ny Vidler, in a 2005 lec­ture titled Architecture’s Expand­ed Field,” observed that archi­tec­ture at the turn of twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, like sculp­ture some decades ear­li­er, had found nov­el for­mal and pro­gram­mat­ic visions bor­row­ing from an array of dis­ci­plines and tech­nolo­gies from land­scape design to dig­i­tal ani­ma­tion.5 Vidler’s title, togeth­er with the ref­er­ence to sculp­ture, open­ly allud­ed to the 1979 canon­i­cal essay by Ros­alind Krauss, Sculp­ture in the Expand­ed Field.” In that famous text, Krauss tried to artic­u­late a new frame of ref­er­ence for art works that began to appear in the ear­ly 1960s and that stretched the lim­its of the con­ven­tion­al def­i­n­i­tion of sculp­ture, defy­ing its inter­nal logic.

Accord­ing to Krauss, sculp­tures were his­tor­i­cal­ly intend­ed to be com­mem­o­ra­tive, mon­u­men­tal rep­re­sen­ta­tions sit­ting in a spe­cif­ic place and speak­ing sym­bol­i­cal­ly about the mean­ing and use of that place. With mod­ernism, how­ev­er, sculp­ture lost that site speci­fici­ty and, con­se­quent­ly, its mon­u­men­tal­i­ty became abstract and self-ref­er­en­tial. Mod­ernist sculp­ture pro­gres­sive­ly became some­thing whose pos­i­tive con­tent was increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to locate, some­thing that it was pos­si­ble to locate only in terms of what it was not.”6 This process reached its fruition when — in the works of Robert Mor­ris, for exam­ple — sculp­ture attained a sit­u­a­tion of pure neg­a­tiv­i­ty, defined by a neither/​nor con­di­tion. In the well-known for­mu­la of Krauss, sculp­ture became the cat­e­go­ry that result­ed from the addi­tion of the not-land­scape to the not-archi­tec­ture.”7Expressed dia­gram­mat­i­cal­ly, and devel­oped accord­ing to struc­tural­ist pro­ce­dures bor­rowed from lin­guis­tics, this def­i­n­i­tion gen­er­at­ed the map­ping of a new expand­ed field of sculp­tur­al” interventions.

Rosalind Krauss, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” October 8 (Spring 1979), pp. 31-34; diagram on p. 38. © The MIT Press. Reproduced with permission.

In the result­ing chart, we see two inter­sect­ing squares. In the cor­ners of the first, we find the words land­scape, not-land­scape, archi­tec­ture and not-archi­tec­ture, con­nect­ed by arrows that estab­lish sets of rela­tion­ships. On the sec­ond square, rotat­ed 45 degrees, we read marked sites (phys­i­cal­ly manip­u­lat­ed sites or non-per­ma­nent imprints on sites), site-con­struc­tions (struc­tures built in the land­scape), axiomat­ic struc­tures (inter­ven­tion in archi­tec­tur­al spaces), and sculp­ture. In the ter­ri­to­ries thus mapped, Krauss was able to sit­u­ate, among oth­ers, the pro­duc­tion of Robert Smith­son, Michael Heiz­er, Mary Miss, Richard Ser­ra, Robert Irwin and Sol Lewitt. That is, she list­ed the artists who, in her words, had gained the per­mis­sion” to think these oth­er forms, push­ing the log­ic of mod­ernism to its extreme lim­its, to the point of pro­vok­ing a cul­tur­al rup­ture that sig­naled the advent of post­mod­ernism. In the same essay, Krauss sug­gest­ed a pos­si­ble way in which a sim­i­lar, post­mod­ernist shat­ter­ing of bor­ders would invest paint­ing. In a paren­the­sis, she remark­ably affirms, The post­mod­ernist space of paint­ing would obvi­ous­ly involve a sim­i­lar expan­sion around a dif­fer­ent set of terms from the pair architecture/​landscape – a set that would prob­a­bly turn on the oppo­si­tion uniqueness/​reproducibility.”8

Krauss’s author­i­ta­tive the­sis has gone vir­tu­al­ly unchal­lenged for more than three decades and has inspired innu­mer­able anal­o­gous exer­cis­es. Beyond the above-men­tioned lec­ture by Vidler, sev­er­al crit­ics and schol­ars have pro­posed charts map­ping new asso­ci­a­tions among var­i­ous forms of art prac­tice, archi­tec­ture, and land­scape. In fact, one of the first to revis­it the four-part struc­tural­ist dia­gram, this time to inves­ti­gate the rela­tion of fig­ure to ground in mod­ernist visu­al­i­ty, was Krauss her­self in the Opti­cal Uncon­scious (1993). Four years lat­er, Eliz­a­beth K. Mey­er explored the appli­ca­tion of the dia­gram to land­scape archi­tec­ture in a land­mark essay: The Expand­ed Field of Land­scape Archi­tec­ture.”9 In 2007, the School of Archi­tec­ture at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Depart­ment of Art and Archae­ol­o­gy there, orga­nized the sym­po­sium Retrac­ing the Expand­ed Field with the twofold objec­tive of revis­it­ing the ori­gins of Krauss’s essay with­in the con­text of his­to­ri­o­graph­ic and artis­tic prac­tices of the late 1960s and 1970s, and to re-exam­ine its sta­tus against devel­op­ments in the expand­ed prac­tices of art and archi­tec­ture over the last thir­ty years.”10 More recent­ly, the exhi­bi­tion Archi­tec­ture in the Expand­ed Field (Wat­tis Insti­tute for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, San Fran­cis­co, 2012) pro­posed a series of con­tem­po­rary instal­la­tions whose con­cep­tu­al, spa­tial and mate­r­i­al tra­jec­to­ries have pro­duced a new and expand­ing net­work of rela­tions between the domains of archi­tec­ture, sculp­ture, inte­ri­ors and land­scape.”11 Far from exhaus­tive, this brief reca­pit­u­la­tion speaks of the mes­mer­iz­ing effect of Krauss’s chart­ing on gen­er­a­tions of artists, archi­tects, and critics.

Such unan­i­mous enthu­si­asm for a dia­gram, which appears mag­i­cal­ly to offer solu­tions to any sort of dilem­ma, rais­es at least some per­plex­i­ty. Its ori­gin in lin­guis­tic and struc­tural­ist think­ing, for exam­ple, should pro­voke a num­ber of ques­tions. Indeed, the first to point out the lim­its of a struc­tural­ist approach in the field of art was Jack Burn­ham in The Struc­ture of Art (1973). Pos­si­bly Krauss’s most emi­nent rival in the 1960s and 1970s, Burn­ham today is best known for a book he pub­lished a few years ear­li­er, Beyond Mod­ern Sculp­ture: The Effects of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy on the Sculp­ture of This Cen­tu­ry (1968), and for his con­tri­bu­tions as an art the­o­rist, crit­ic, and cura­tor in the field of sys­tems art. Heav­i­ly crit­i­cized by Krauss for the tech­no­log­i­cal deter­min­ism of Beyond Mod­ern Sculp­ture, Burn­ham set out to amend the his­tor­i­cal pre­sump­tions” and inter­nal incon­sis­ten­cies” of this first book in The Struc­ture of Art, where he pro­posed an inter­pre­ta­tive frame­work derived from struc­tur­al anthro­pol­o­gy (Claude Lévi-Strauss), lin­guis­tics (Fer­di­nand de Saus­sure), semi­ol­o­gy (Roland Barthes), and the work of the Swiss psy­chol­o­gist Jean Piaget on cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment. In the third chap­ter of The Struc­ture of Art, Burn­ham pre­sent­ed a struc­tur­al matrix”12 remark­ably sim­i­lar to the famous dia­gram pub­lished six years lat­er by Krauss.

Jack Burnham, The Structure of Art, New York: George Braziller, revised edition, 1973 (first edition 1971); diagram on p. 57. © George Braziller. Reproduced with permission.

As sources for his dia­gram, Burn­ham offers the alge­bra sets the­o­rems devel­oped by the Bour­ba­ki math­e­mati­cians, the Klein Group con­cepts employed by semi­ol­o­gy, and the anal­o­gous approach used by Lévi-Strauss for defin­ing kin­ship rela­tions and myth­ic forms. These sources are pre­cise­ly the same quot­ed by Krauss in her essay to explain her own dia­gram, down to the same bib­li­o­graph­i­cal ref­er­ences. In her text, Krauss (who doesn’t men­tion Burnham’s work) man­aged in a mas­ter­ly way to con­ceal one of the most bla­tant lim­its of the struc­tural­ist approach, i. e. its syn­chron­ic char­ac­ter and the con­tra­dic­tions inher­ent in its appli­ca­tion to a diachron­ic dimen­sion. This par­tic­u­lar incon­sis­ten­cy of struc­tural­ism is, instead, art­less­ly under­lined by Burn­ham, who promis­es in his pref­ace to The Struc­ture of Art to write a future book about the per­cep­tu­al laws defin­ing the his­tor­i­cal’ sequen­tial dis­cern­ment of art.”

Beyond the con­straints imposed by the syn­chron­ic nature of structuralism’s meth­ods, a dif­fer­ent but equal­ly obvi­ous flaw in struc­tural­ist inter­pre­ta­tions has been exposed by Jacques Der­ri­da in Giv­en Time.13 Part of Derrida’s book is an extend­ed com­men­tary on the famous essay on the gift by the French ethno­g­ra­ph­er Mar­cel Mauss.14 Der­ri­da explains how Mauss ana­lyzed sys­tems of exchange in almost a struc­tur­al” way, but with­out ever los­ing sight of the thing itself. Mauss insist­ed in par­tic­u­lar on the Maori con­cept of hau, the spir­it of things, to show how What impos­es oblig­a­tion in the present received and exchanged, is the fact that the thing received is not inac­tive. Even when it has been aban­doned by the giv­er, it still pos­sess­es some­thing of him […] the hau fol­lows after any­one pos­sess­ing the thing.”15 Der­ri­da finds this focus on the aura of the thing exchanged of the utmost inter­est, dis­miss­ing the cri­tique of the role of the hau advanced by the struc­tur­al” anthro­pol­o­gist Claude Lévi-Strauss in his Intro­duc­tion to the Work of Mar­cel Mauss.16 Accord­ing to Der­ri­da, Lévi-Strauss elim­i­nates all the dif­fi­cul­ties regard­ing the ques­tion of the thing, the intrin­sic val­ue of the gift, wav­ing away the notion of hau and intro­duc­ing a pure log­ic of rela­tion of exchange. In so doing, Lévi-Strauss caus­es the very val­ue of the gift to van­ish. By extend­ing this sort of crit­i­cism to the struc­tural­ist approach of Lévi-Strauss in gen­er­al, one may observe that Lévi-Strauss’s dia­grams suc­ceed­ed in build­ing a sys­tem of rela­tion­ship but failed in defin­ing the nature of the things the dia­grams con­nect­ed. Some­thing along the same lines can be argued about the dia­gram around which Krauss con­struct­ed her the­sis on sculp­ture. There, again, some of the things, name­ly land­scape and archi­tec­ture, are nev­er real­ly addressed.

Archi­tec­ture and land­scape: In Krauss’ dia­gram, fol­low­ing the well-known arrows that build sets of rela­tion­ships, archi­tec­ture is defined as non-land­scape and land­scape as non-archi­tec­ture. In read­ing Krauss’s essay, we learn that archi­tec­ture and land­scape cor­re­spond also to the built and the un-built and to cul­ture and nature. Krauss, more­over, seems to con­sid­er both of them exter­nal to the realm of art. She adds that no one, up to that point in time, had dared to think the com­plex,” mean­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty offered by the con­ju­ga­tion of the two. Here is a sur­pris­ing pas­sage from her essay:

to think the com­plex is to admit in the realm of art two terms that had for­mer­ly been pro­hib­it­ed from it: land­scape and archi­tec­ture – terms that could func­tion to define the sculp­tur­al (as they had begun to do in mod­ernism) only in their neg­a­tive or neuter con­di­tion. Because it was ide­o­log­i­cal­ly pro­hib­it­ed, the com­plex had remained exclud­ed from what might be called the clo­sure of Post-Renais­sance art. Our cul­ture had not been able before to think the com­plex, although oth­er cul­tures have thought this term with great ease.17

Indeed, this state­ment is quite extra­or­di­nary. One may debate, as has been done for cen­turies, about the sta­tus of archi­tec­ture as an art, but what about land­scape? The lat­ter notion, far from des­ig­nat­ing nature or the un-built, as Krauss sug­gests, appeared for the first time dur­ing the Renais­sance to define rep­re­sen­ta­tions in paint­ings and draw­ings of cul­ti­vat­ed, inhab­it­ed (and built) land. Dur­ing the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry, the­o­rists of the pic­turesque asso­ci­at­ed it with the new art of design­ing land­scape gar­dens (inspired by rep­re­sen­ta­tions), while in the ear­ly nine­teenth cen­tu­ry the French archi­tect, engi­neer, and gar­den design­er Jean-Marie Morel pro­posed for his pro­fes­sion the appel­la­tion archi­tecte-paysag­iste, a def­i­n­i­tion lat­er trans­lat­ed by Fred­er­ick Law Olm­st­ed, who intro­duced the term land­scape archi­tec­ture to define a pro­fes­sion still taught and prac­ticed in Amer­i­ca today. Such his­to­ry was clear­ly famil­iar to artists such as Robert Smith­son, as indi­cat­ed by his appro­pri­a­tion and revi­sion of the pic­turesque aes­thet­ics, and also by his admi­ra­tion for the work of Olmsted.

One may argue that, begin­ning in the ear­ly 1960s, land­scape archi­tec­ture was also under­go­ing an iden­ti­ty cri­sis, strug­gling to over­come the lim­its of an exhaust­ed but extreme­ly pow­er­ful tra­di­tion that imposed the repro­duc­tion of an aes­thet­ics (main­ly bucol­ic, placid, pas­toral scenery) that the pub­lic per­ceived as nat­ur­al.” Or, it may very well be that the pro­fes­sion of land­scape archi­tec­ture has always suf­fered, and is still ago­niz­ing, over repeat­ed iden­ti­ty crises. Inter­est­ing­ly, in a recent essay titled Land­scape as Archi­tec­ture,” Charles Wald­heim (respon­si­ble for coin­ing the term land­scape urban­ism) has traced the evo­lu­tion of the pro­fes­sion of land­scape archi­tec­ture, recon­struct­ing the ety­mol­o­gy of its name in an effort to jus­ti­fy the mul­ti­tude of scales and modes of inter­ven­tion now employed in its expand­ed field.”18

Quite pos­si­bly today, when we observe archi­tects, artists, and land­scape design­ers con­stant­ly cross­ing bor­ders, bor­row­ing forms and strate­gies from each oth­er, the prob­lem is not the inabil­i­ty to think the com­plex, the asso­ci­a­tion of land­scape and archi­tec­ture, or infra­struc­ture and instal­la­tion, or envi­ron­ment and ter­ri­to­ry, but of re-think­ing it. And such re-think­ing should pos­si­bly include a re-writ­ing with the empha­sis on the pos­si­bil­i­ty offered by the word and” sep­a­rat­ing but no longer oppos­ing con­cepts or things, as sug­gest­ed in a bril­liant series of texts by Gilles Deleuze.19 Deleuze explains how our think­ing is an ontol­ogy, inas­much as it is in gen­er­al built around the verb to be,” the idea of being, and how phi­los­o­phy, for that rea­son, is full of dis­cus­sions about judg­ments of attri­bu­tion, such as the grass is green,” and judg­ments of exis­tence, as in god is” or land­scape is.” Even con­junc­tions are mea­sured in rela­tion to the verb to be.” But, con­tin­ues Deleuze, Anglo-Amer­i­can empiri­cism has freed the con­junc­tion, open­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty to reflect on rela­tions and reveal­ing how rela­tions are exter­nal to their terms. Once the judg­ment of rela­tion becomes autonomous, dis­tinct from judg­ments of exis­tence and attri­bu­tion, it is easy to real­ize that it per­vades every­thing. So, it is the and” as opposed to the is.” Deleuze says that, when we switch to this mode of think­ing, we dis­cov­er that the and” is not just a con­junc­tion, a con­nec­tion, but it is also a rela­tion — not just one rela­tion, but every pos­si­ble rela­tion. The and” is capa­ble of throw­ing out of bal­ance even the notion of being. The and” is diver­si­ty, mul­ti­plic­i­ty, destruc­tion of identities.

Deleuze returns to the ques­tion of the and” at the end of the open­ing chap­ter of A Thou­sand Plateaus,20 Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s mon­u­men­tal attempt to trace a nov­el car­tog­ra­phy of rela­tions beyond the realm of State thought. Here, the and” elu­ci­dates how the arbores­cent mod­el of State phi­los­o­phy could be smoth­ered by the rhi­zomat­ic net­work of nomadic think­ing. For Deleuze and Guat­tari, the rhi­zome, instead of offer­ing tree­like genealo­gies and nar­ra­tives of his­to­ry and cul­ture, charts tra­jec­to­ries, maps poles of attrac­tions, dia­grams inten­si­ties. Rhi­zomat­ic thought doesn’t con­cern itself with ori­gins and out­comes, for a rhi­zome has no begin­ning or end; it is always in the mid­dle, between things, inter­be­ing, inter­mez­zo.” The rhi­zome oper­ates in-between, as a con­junc­tion, as the and.” They write: The tree impos­es the verb to be,’ but the fab­ric of the rhi­zome is the con­junc­tion, and…and…and…’ This con­junc­tion car­ries enough force to shake and uproot the verb to be’.” The log­ic of and” estab­lish­es the pos­si­bil­i­ty of mov­ing between things, over­throw­ing ontol­ogy, crush­ing foun­da­tions, nul­li­fy­ing end­ings and beginnings.

Para­phras­ing Deleuze and Guat­tari, when we say land­scape and” archi­tec­ture, we don’t mean either one or the oth­er or that one becomes the oth­er, because mul­ti­plic­i­ty is nei­ther in one of the terms nor in the total­i­ty. Mul­ti­plic­i­ty is con­tained in the and.” The and” is always between the two. It oper­ates from the mid­dle and inter­ro­gates the sets of con­di­tions that con­trol the for­ma­tion of state­ments about the rela­tion­ships that asso­ciate land­scape and” archi­tec­ture. From that rhi­zomat­ic mid­dle, as Deleuze and Guat­tari write, things begin to accel­er­ate: Between things does not des­ig­nate a local­iz­able rela­tion going from one thing to the oth­er and back again, but a per­pen­dic­u­lar direc­tion, a trans­ver­sal move­ment that sweeps one and the oth­er away, a stream with­out begin­ning or end that under­mines its banks and picks up speed in the mid­dle.”21

Pho­tos by Ate­lier Pierre Thibault repro­duced with permission.


By David L. Hays

In her essay Sculp­ture in the Expand­ed Field” (1979), the­o­rist and crit­ic Ros­alind Krauss used a dia­gram to cat­e­go­rize recent works of art that resist­ed clas­si­fi­ca­tion. In expand­ing the terms of sculp­ture, Krauss enlarged the scope of that dis­ci­pline and accom­mo­dat­ed the works in ques­tion. She also inspired efforts to enlarge oth­er prac­tices, each by insert­ing new con­tent into the giv­en matrix. In that way, the dia­gram became a device for augur­ing more com­plex dis­ci­pli­nary futures, and its influ­ence seemed to grow, branch, and bear fruit well beyond its ini­tial purpose.

In Archi­tec­ture AND Land­scape: Beyond the Mag­ic Dia­gram,” land­scape his­to­ri­an and the­o­rist Alessan­dra Ponte argues that, hav­ing gone vir­tu­al­ly unchal­lenged for more than three decades,” Krauss’s dia­gram war­rants care­ful recon­sid­er­a­tion, in part because its ori­gin in lin­guis­tic and struc­tural­ist think­ing […] should pro­voke a num­ber of ques­tions” and in part because Krauss’s own use of it depend­ed on strik­ing­ly nar­row def­i­n­i­tions of archi­tec­ture and land­scape. For exam­ple, Krauss framed land­scape as not-built” and nat­ur­al”22 (in con­trast to built” and cul­tur­al” archi­tec­ture), assump­tions in keep­ing with a gener­ic sense of land­scape as space beyond cul­ture — its inevitable set­ting or back­drop — but over­look­ing deep his­tor­i­cal asso­ci­a­tions of land­scape with labor and aes­thet­ics. Qual­i­fy­ing land­scape as not-built” and nat­ur­al” was — and is — like claim­ing that magi­cians make objects dis­ap­pear. In fact, magi­cians do make objects dis­ap­pear, but as an illu­sion based on sleight of hand — tech­nique that obscures the tech­nique — rather than by dema­te­ri­al­iz­ing them. In a sim­i­lar way, land­scape design­ers make spaces appear not-built” and nat­ur­al” through a sleight of design — tech­nique that obscures the tech­nique.23 The illu­sion is struc­tured in plain sight, while the unseen object (or infra­struc­ture) remains close at hand. To those in the know, the illu­sion seems obvi­ous because they under­stand how and where to look. 

In Archi­tec­ture AND Land­scape,” Ponte shows how and where to look at Krauss’s dia­gram, ground­ing its illu­so­ry pow­er and describ­ing a more mean­ing­ful and pro­duc­tive path to trans­for­ma­tion. Hith­er­to, the dia­gram has seemed arbores­cent — abstract, autonomous, struc­tur­al, syn­chron­ic — and, there­fore, author­i­ta­tive. How­ev­er, in expos­ing Jack Burnham’s book The Struc­ture of Art (1973) as an unac­knowl­edged prece­dent to Krauss’s work, Ponte directs our atten­tion to roots unseen or ignored. The point is nei­ther to dwell on a slight (or sleight) of ref­er­ence, nor to sanc­ti­fy Burn­ham as the true author of the dia­gram, but, rather, to show that its roots are com­plex: dou­bled up, extend­ing in mul­ti­ple direc­tions, and resur­fac­ing else­where in unex­pect­ed ways. In short, they are rhizomatic.

To grasp the sig­nif­i­cance of that point, it is help­ful to envi­sion the con­junc­tion and” — that rhi­zomat­ic mid­dle” — as described by philoso­phers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guat­tari and invoked in Ponte’s con­clu­sion: Between things does not des­ig­nate a local­iz­able rela­tion going from one thing to the oth­er and back again, but a per­pen­dic­u­lar direc­tion, a trans­ver­sal moment that sweeps one and the oth­er away, a stream with­out begin­ning or end that under­mines its banks and picks up speed in the mid­dle.”24 That way of under­stand­ing and” trans­forms the con­tent of famil­iar com­par­isons, such as land­scape AND archi­tec­ture, but it also per­tains to instances of a sin­gle term — land­scape AND land­scape — and exten­sions there­of — […] AND land­scape AND land­scape AND land­scape AND […].25 While the illu­so­ry pow­er of the mag­ic dia­gram” depends on care­ful con­trol of con­tent and con­junc­tion, both of those are fun­da­men­tal­ly unsta­ble, and rhi­zomat­ic think­ing accom­mo­dates that. In sequenc­ing instances of the same term, the point is nei­ther to evac­u­ate mean­ing by imply­ing its per­pet­u­al muta­bil­i­ty nor to essen­tial­ize it through con­cep­tu­al dis­til­la­tion but, rather, as Deleuze and Guat­tari put it, to shake and uproot the verb to be’” and, as Ponte con­cludes, to estab­lish the pos­si­bil­i­ty of mov­ing between things, over­throw­ing ontol­ogy, crush­ing foun­da­tions, nul­li­fy­ing end­ings and beginnings.”



Jack Burn­ham, The Struc­ture of Art, New York: George Braziller, revised edi­tion, 1973 (first edi­tion 1971), p. 56.


Gilles Deleuze and Claire Par­net, A Con­ver­sa­tion: What is it? What is it for?,” in Dia­logues, trans­lat­ed by Hugh Tom­lin­son and Bar­bara Hab­ber­jam, New York: Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1987 (orig­i­nal French edi­tion Paris: Flam­mar­i­on, 1977), pp. 1 – 35, p. 34.


Jurors Beth Kapus­ta and Mario Saia dis­cussing the Spe­cial Award con­ferred for Win­ter Gar­den” (Charlevoix, Que­bec), in Cana­di­an Archi­tect, Awards of Excel­lence 2001, Decem­ber 2001, Vol. 46, No. 12, p. 31.


Dia­logue between jurors for the P/A award con­ferred to Pierre Thibault’s Win­ter Gar­dens,” in Archi­tec­ture, April 2001, pp. 114 – 5.


Antho­ny Vidler, Architecture’s Expand­ed Field,” pub­lished in the con­fer­ence pro­ceed­ings of Archi­tec­ture Between Spec­ta­cle and Use, Clark Insti­tute, 2005, and re-pub­lished in Krista Sykes, edi­tor, Con­struct­ing a New Agen­da: Archi­tec­tur­al The­o­ry 1993 – 2009, New York: Prince­ton Archi­tec­tur­al Press, 2010, pp. 318 – 331.


Ros­alind Krauss, Sculp­ture in the Expand­ed Field,” Octo­ber 8 (Spring 1979), reprint­ed in Hal Fos­ter, edi­tor, The Anti-Aes­thet­ic: Essays on Post­mod­ern Cul­ture, Port Townsend: Bay Press, 1983, pp. 31 – 42, p. 36.




Ibid., p. 41.


Eliz­a­beth K. Mey­er, The Expand­ed Field of Land­scape Archi­tec­ture” (1997), reprint­ed in Simon R. Swaffield, edi­tor, The­o­ry in Land­scape Archi­tec­ture: A Read­er, Philadel­phia: Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia Press, 2002, pp. 167 – 170.


The pro­ceed­ings have been pub­lished in Spy­ros Papa­pet­ros and Julian Rose, edi­tors, Retrac­ing the Expand­ed Field: Encoun­ters between Art and Archi­tec­ture, Cam­bridge (Mass.): The MIT Press, 2014.


Designed and curat­ed by Ila Berman and Dou­glas Burn­ham, Cal­i­for­nia Col­lege of the Arts, San Francisco.


The dia­gram includes at the cen­ter Aether and in the four cor­ners Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Burn­ham, The Struc­ture of Art, p. 57.


Jacques Der­ri­da, Giv­en Time: I. Coun­ter­feit Mon­ey, Chicago/​London: Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press, 1992.a


Mar­cel Mauss, The Gift: the Form and Rea­son for Exchange in Archa­ic Soci­eties [Essai sur le don. Forme et rai­son de l’échange dans les sociétés archaïques, 1950], trans­lat­ed by W.D. Halls, fore­word by Mary Dou­glas, New York/​London, W.W. Nor­ton, 1990.


Ibid., pp. 11 – 12.


Claude Lévi-Strauss, Intro­duc­tion to the Work of Mar­cel Mauss, trans­lat­ed by Felic­i­ty Bak­er, Lon­don: Rout­ledge & Kegan Paul, 1987.


Krauss, Sculp­ture in the Expand­ed Field”, p. 41.


Charles Wald­heim, Land­scape as Archi­tec­ture”, Har­vard Design Mag­a­zine 36: Land­scape Architecture’s Core?,” 2013, pp. 17 – 20.


Gilles Deleuze, Trois Ques­tions sur Six Fois Deux (Godard),” Pour­par­lers (19721990), Paris, Les Édi­tions de Minu­it, 1990, pp. 55 – 66. See also Gilles Deleuze and Claire Par­net, On the Supe­ri­or­i­ty of Anglo-Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture,” in Dia­logues, op cit., pp. 36 – 76.


Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guat­tari, A Thou­sand Plateaus: Cap­i­tal­ism and Schiz­o­phre­nia, trans­lat­ed by Bri­an Mas­su­mi, Min­neapo­lis: Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 1987, pp. 13 – 25.


Ibid., p. 25.


See Krauss, Sculp­ture in the Expand­ed Field,” pp. 36 – 37.


Fred­er­ick Law Olm­st­ed and Calvert Vaux’s design for Cen­tral Park in New York City is the best known, his­toric exam­ple of this prac­tice, but it per­sists in con­tem­po­rary projects — for exam­ple, those with plant­i­ng designs by Piet Oudolf, such as the Lurie Gar­den in Mil­len­ni­um Park (Chica­go, IL) and the High Line (New York, NY).


Deleuze and Guat­tari, A Thou­sand Plateaus, p. 25.


Under­stood, for exam­ple, as “[…] AND space beyond cul­ture AND cul­tur­al space AND rela­tion­ship between humans and nature AND […]” but also as “[…] AND space beyond cul­ture AND space beyond cul­ture AND space beyond cul­ture AND […].”



Alessan­dra Ponte is a pro­fes­sor at the École d’architecture, Uni­ver­sité de Mon­tréal, where she teach­es his­to­ry and the­o­ry of archi­tec­ture and land­scape. She has also taught at Pratt Insti­tute, Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty, the Isti­tu­to Uni­ver­si­tario di Architet­tura di Venezia, and ETH (Zurich). Ponte is the author of Le paysage des orig­ines: Le voy­age en Sicile” (1777) de Richard Payne Knight (Les Édi­tions de l’Im­primeur, 2000) and co-edi­tor, with Antoine Picon, of Archi­tec­ture and the Sci­ences: Exchang­ing Metaphors (Prince­ton Archi­tec­tur­al Press, 2003). A col­lec­tion of her essays was pub­lished in 2014 as The House of Light and Entropy (Archi­tec­tur­al Asso­ci­a­tion Pub­li­ca­tions). Ponte orga­nized the exhi­bi­tion Total Envi­ron­ment: Mon­tréal 1965 – 1975 (Cana­di­an Cen­tre for Archi­tec­ture, Mon­tréal, 2009) and both co-orga­nized and co-edit­ed the cat­a­logue for the exhi­bi­tion God & Co.: François Dal­le­gret Beyond the Bub­ble (Archi­tec­tur­al Asso­ci­a­tion, Lon­don, 2011; ETH, Zurich, 2012; ENS­BA-Malaquais, Paris, 2012). Since 2009, she has been respon­si­ble for the con­cep­tion and orga­ni­za­tion of the Phyl­lis Lam­bert Sem­i­nar, annu­al col­lo­quia on con­tem­po­rary archi­tec­tur­al top­ics. Email: alessandraponte@​sympatico.​ca

David L. Hays is co-edi­tor of Forty-Five, Asso­ciate Head of the Depart­ment of Land­scape Archi­tec­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois at Urbana-Cham­paign, and found­ing prin­ci­pal of Ana­log Media Lab. Trained in archi­tec­ture and his­to­ry of art, his schol­ar­ly research explores con­tem­po­rary land­scape the­o­ry and prac­tice, the his­to­ry of gar­den and land­scape design in ear­ly mod­ern Europe, inter­faces between archi­tec­ture and land­scape, and ped­a­go­gies of his­to­ry and design. Hays is the edi­tor of Land­scape with­in Archi­tec­ture (2004) and (Non-)Essential Knowl­edge for (New) Archi­tec­ture (2013), both by 306090/​Princeton Archi­tec­tur­al Press. His essays have appeared in a wide range of jour­nals — includ­ing Har­vard Design Mag­a­zine, PLOT (City Col­lege of New York), Eigh­teenth-Cen­tu­ry Stud­ies, The Sens­es and Soci­ety (Oxford), Matéri­cos Per­iferi­cos (Rosario, Argenti­na), Tek­ton (Mum­bai), and Feng jin yuan lin and Land­scape Archi­tec­ture Chi­na (Bei­jing) — and as chap­ters in numer­ous books. As a design­er, Hays’s work explores the pro­duc­tion of envi­ron­men­tal­ly respon­sive objects using low-cost, low-tech mate­ri­als. With par­tic­u­lar inter­ests in dynam­ic sys­tems, envi­ron­men­tal phe­nom­e­na, and craft, his process cross­es lat­er­al think­ing and intu­ition with ground­ed exper­i­ment. Email: dlhays@​forty-​five.​com