The Shape of Things: Reimagining landscape parliaments in the Anthropocene

Karl Kullmann

Reviewed by Deni Ruggeri

13 Feb 2018

You will find me if you want me in the gar­den
Unless it’s pour­ing down with rain
You will find me by the banks of all four rivers…
Unless it’s pour­ing down with rain

Ein­stürzende Neubaut­en, The Gar­den,” Ende Neu, 1996

We are stand­ing in the par­lia­ment in the rain. Fol­low­ing par­lia­men­tary pro­to­col, a cold clear riv­er cross­es the floor from left to east. From the mar­gins, basalt walls move motions at a rate of half a mil­lime­ter every week. In the mid­night twi­light, it dawns on us that this flu­idic cham­ber reports to an ad hoc com­mit­tee of con­ti­nents and islands. As Europe and Amer­i­ca drift phys­i­cal­ly (and polit­i­cal­ly) apart, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge admits new ground to the quo­rum: Tris­tan da Cun­ha, St. Hele­na, Ascen­sion, the Azores. And Iceland.

And no, the roof isn’t leak­ing; there isn’t one. We are stand­ing in Thingvel­lir, which served for near­ly a thou­sand years as the dynam­ic set­ting for Iceland’s annu­al out­door par­lia­ment. Strad­dling diverg­ing tec­ton­ic plates, Thingvel­lir (Þingvel­lir, assem­bly field) drew cit­i­zens from across the island to dis­cuss impor­tant mat­ters of con­cern.1 Here amidst the rocky fis­sures of Alman­nagjá Gorge, divi­sive mat­ters were debat­ed in a lit­er­al­ly divid­ing landscape.

While its dra­mat­ic set­ting, unusu­al­ly large juris­dic­tion, and sus­tained dura­tion make Thingvel­lir the most cel­e­brat­ed exam­ple, Thing par­lia­ments in fact fea­tured through­out Viking lands. Sites retain­ing names derived from the old Norse word Ting/Þing (pub­lic assem­bly) are found, for exam­ple, at Gulat­ing in Nor­way, Tingwal­la in Swe­den, Tin­ganes in the Faroe Islands, Tingwall in Shet­land and Orkney, and Tyn­wald on the Isle of Man.

As a land­scape-based forum for dis­cussing impor­tant com­mu­ni­ty mat­ters, Þing can be traced to the ancient Ger­man­ic pro­to-par­lia­men­tary Ding.2 Per­tain­ing to a gen­er­al assem­bly or court of law in Old High Ger­man, Dings were typ­i­cal­ly sit­ed in topo­graph­i­cal­ly promi­nent loca­tions that often includ­ed mega­liths, large trees, or springs.3 As Mar­tin Hei­deg­ger observed, traces of Þing and Ding are still retained in the Eng­lish word thing, in the sense that a per­son knows his things”; that is, she or he under­stands the mat­ters” at hand.4

Fluid parliament: the Öxará River intercepting the Thingvellir Fissure Swarm.
Image: Michal Hubert ( Reproduced with permission.

Yet even as Thingvellir’s par­lia­ment con­tin­ued to oper­ate with­in the unique­ly dynam­ic and iso­lat­ed land­scape of Ice­land, things” were pro­found­ly trans­form­ing in mod­ern­iz­ing Europe. With the rise of the cen­tral­ized state and the appli­ca­tion of mod­ern car­tog­ra­phy, land enclo­sure erod­ed the feu­dal com­mons that Thing par­lia­ments typ­i­cal­ly occu­pied.5 With no place left in the land­scape, Things moved under­cov­er and, even­tu­al­ly, with­in ful­ly enclosed buildings.

As the land­scape geo­g­ra­ph­er Ken­neth Olwig reveals, a fun­da­men­tal inver­sion tran­spired. Where things once referred to land­scape-based com­mu­ni­ty assem­blies for dis­cussing things-that-mat­ter, the enclo­sure of these forums led to things becom­ing rei­fied as phys­i­cal objects, or things-as-mat­ter.6 With things now con­ceived more as objects than as issues, this shift also had pro­found impli­ca­tions for con­cep­tions of land­scape. Divest­ed of its thing­ness, land­scape became more of a recep­ta­cle for mate­r­i­al things than a Thing itself.

Notwith­stand­ing Heidegger’s ear­li­er ety­mo­log­i­cal les­son with regard to know­ing one’s things,” this is prin­ci­pal­ly how we con­ceive of things today: as all man­ner of inan­i­mate and unnamed objects that sur­round us with our own indif­fer­ence. As the ulti­mate emblem of this ambiva­lence, the loom­ing Inter­net of Things con­signs things to hyper-net­worked every­day devices. In this world, land­scape is rel­e­gat­ed to a kind of Hansard that chron­i­cles events and objects, but does not have a seat in the par­lia­ment that it once cra­dled: a land­scape with­out agency, called on to smooth over the dis­junc­tions of the industrial/​digital age.

But the fis­sures in this arrange­ment are dif­fi­cult to con­ceal. Even as we sub­scribe to the illu­sion of a seam­less world in which humans and cap­i­tal move with­out fric­tion, the land­scape is riv­en with more walls and divi­sions than ever before.7 Today, land­scape func­tions as a scape­goat for the dis­junc­tion between the satellite’s view of mass air trav­el, instant com­mu­ni­ca­tions, inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles, and our expe­ri­ence on the ground, where the struc­tures of pow­er are sequestered behind closed doors.

All the while, beneath our feet, the envi­ron­men­tal impacts of humans are locked into the sed­i­ment. While we have pro­ceed­ed forth since the ear­li­est civ­i­liza­tions as geo­log­i­cal agents” who reshape our envi­ron­ments, this activ­i­ty took on a new order of mag­ni­tude in the indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion.8 In our con­tem­po­rary epoch, which Paul Crutzen famous­ly labeled the Anthro­pocene, dust laid down in the Qua­ter­nary geo­log­i­cal record keeps a silent score of our radi­a­tion and car­bon.9 If thir­ty-first cen­tu­ry strati­g­ra­phers care to dig, they will uncov­er a phase-shift match­ing in mag­ni­tude the most cat­a­clysmic erup­tions and mete­or impacts. But the fas­ci­na­tion of future sci­en­tists is of lit­tle con­so­la­tion to us now; this geo­log­ic chron­i­cle of the Anthro­pocene can­not be archived away, insu­lat­ing us from our­selves, indefinitely.

Geological agents in the Anthropocene: terraced earthworks in preparation for suburban development, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Image: Karl Kullmann.

Par­lia­ments of Things

And yet, things are actu­al­ly not all about us. Retriev­ing the polit­i­cal agency of the land­scape requires bring­ing all of the oth­er things that we rou­tine­ly over­look into the fold. Towards this goal, the soci­ol­o­gist-philoso­pher Bruno Latour extends agency in the Anthro­pocene beyond humans and the land­scapes that they shape. No longer con­ceived as exter­nal enti­ties await­ing human acti­va­tion, non-human objects are as empow­ered to insti­gate actions as are their human coun­ter­parts. By empha­siz­ing their inter­con­nec­tions, humans and non-human agents share the same shape-chang­ing process, even if they are not always appar­ent, includ­ed, or will­ing.10

Latour applies this shared process to an object-ori­ent­ed pol­i­tics encom­pass­ing the many issues to which humans are con­nect­ed. Typ­i­cal­ly over­looked as mat­ters-of-fact that are inci­den­tal to polit­i­cal forums, objects are recast as mat­ters-of-con­cern that are as impor­tant as the actu­al top­ics that are up for dis­cus­sion.11 Fol­low­ing Hei­deg­ger, objects are thus assem­bled as gath­er­ings—or things—that draw issues togeth­er, result­ing in a par­lia­ment of things.

In sup­port of this par­lia­ment of things, Latour observes that ancient land­scape Things were thick not only with peo­ple but also with oth­er things, rang­ing from gar­ments to struc­tures, cities and com­plex tech­nolo­gies to facil­i­tate gath­er­ing. More­over, con­tin­u­ing inter­est in Thingvel­lir poignant­ly sym­bol­izes the extent to which con­tem­po­rary polit­i­cal ques­tions have become ques­tions of nature. Yet, as Latour con­cedes, the shape of con­tem­po­rary assem­blies has changed, so we can­not sim­ply return to ancient Things.

Although the his­tor­i­cal trans­po­si­tion of polit­i­cal gath­er­ings from land­scape into build­ings ini­ti­at­ed this shape-shift, design­ing larg­er and more elab­o­rate archi­tec­tur­al domes under which to assem­ble offers no solu­tion. The issue is that our polit­i­cal hori­zons are just too inflex­i­ble to accom­mo­date the glob­al scope of the Anthro­pocene. Since the astro­nauts on Apol­lo 17 first caught the lone­ly blue mar­ble in the frame of a Has­sel­blad, it dawned on us that the whole Earth is itself a thing.12 But the inscrutable thing about the Globe is that even when we back out halfway to the moon to get it all in cam­era, we are unable to cap­ture more than 49 per cent of it in one moment. That is, we are unable to see both sides of the issue at the same time — not to men­tion the mar­gin between them.

This spher­i­cal van­ish­ing act at the Earth’s hori­zon is a metaphor for the many oth­er things/​issues that are so vast and endur­ing that they defy human scales of com­pre­hen­sion. Glob­al warm­ing, nuclear radi­a­tion, and all of the non-biodegrad­able Sty­ro­foam in the world are actu­al­ly things, albeit ones that are mas­sive­ly dis­trib­uted in space and time. For the philoso­pher Tim­o­thy Mor­ton, these hyper­ob­jects expose the yawn­ing chasm between our aware­ness of things that mat­ter and our lim­it­ed capac­i­ty to per­ceive, let alone address them.13

The Earth becomes a thing: the “blue marble” as photographed by the Apollo 17 crew en route to the moon on December 7, 1972.
Image: NASA Johnson Space Center.

Strate­gies against architecture

Since the very nature of gath­er­ings has changed, how might the land­scape par­lia­ment be re-imaged to stretch our polit­i­cal hori­zons — to help shape con­tem­po­rary mat­ters of con­cern? Clear­ly, gov­ern­ments are not about to relin­quish build­ings and repa­tri­ate the appa­ra­tus of the State back out into the wet and windswept land­scape (as a kind of recre­at­ed Thingvel­lir). But con­verse­ly, build­ings — even enor­mous ones — can nev­er tru­ly be Things. In even the most grav­i­ty-defy­ing mod­ernist glasshouse, there remain too many walls and too many slid­ing doors through which to slip between the par­al­lel uni­vers­es of what we ought to do and actu­al­ly end up doing. How then to rec­on­cile this diver­gence between things that hap­pen in build­ings and Things that unfold in the land­scape? That is, between things-as-mat­ter and things-that-mat­ter?

A few nation­al par­lia­ments do approach this impasse in a sym­bol­ic way with forums that aspire to be more land­scape and less build­ing. Con­sid­er Enric Miralles and Benedet­ta Tagliabue’s design for the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment, which emerges — basalt like — from Edinburgh’s geo­log­ic set­ting. Or, the way the bend in the Riv­er Spree cleaves through Axel Shultz’s design for the Ger­man Chan­cellery in Berlin, like a canyon through the bedrock. How­ev­er, despite such dra­mat­ic con­flu­ences of land­scape and archi­tec­ture, in both cas­es the effect is more akin to baroque or bio­mor­phic cam­ou­flage wrapped around con­ven­tion­al build­ings that still keep the rain out and the politi­cians in.

Of the neo-land­scape par­lia­ments, Roma­l­do Giurgola’s design for Australia’s New Par­lia­ment House (com­plet­ed 1988) in Can­ber­ra is par­tic­u­lar­ly emphat­ic. If Oscar Niemeyer’s plan for Brasil­ia aspired to take flight on the wings and fuse­lage of its Mon­u­men­tal Axis, then Wal­ter Burley-Griffin’s lay­out for Australia’s pur­pose-built cap­i­tal remains firm­ly teth­ered to the ground. Sit­u­at­ed at the heart of the city’s topo­graph­ic con­stel­la­tion of avenues and land­marks, the new Aus­tralian Par­lia­ment is merged into a hill. The par­lia­men­tary cham­bers are buried beneath a pub­licly acces­si­ble knoll, thus plac­ing the peo­ple above the Par­lia­ment and, by impli­ca­tion, not sub­or­di­nate to it. Notwith­stand­ing the real­i­ty that it must remain dry, secure, and ser­vice­able, the Par­lia­ment seeks to express topo­graph­i­cal­ly the aspi­ra­tions and will of all inhab­i­tants and their inter­de­pen­dence with the time­less land­scapes of the Island Con­ti­nent.14

The people’s hill: New Parliament House, Canberra Australia.
Image: John Gollings. Reproduced with permission.

But this egal­i­tar­i­an ges­ture last­ed lit­tle more than a decade. The optics and sym­bol­ism of the people’s hill were sig­nif­i­cant­ly erod­ed when secu­ri­ty was tight­ened after Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001. In Sep­tem­ber 2017, a 9ft-high, weld­ed steel pal­isade was erect­ed around the hill to fin­ish the job once and for all, seal­ing off the knoll — and its leg­is­la­ture — like a for­ti­fied medieval hill town that no longer trusts its hin­ter­land. Much like the bar­ri­cad­ing of pub­lic space that is now nec­es­sary to repel vehic­u­lar ter­ror­ism, fenc­ing Australia’s topo­graph­ic par­lia­ment is deeply sym­bol­ic. It ren­ders vivid a feed­back loop that push­es Things fur­ther and fur­ther away, even as the ide­al encap­su­lat­ed in Australia’s Par­lia­ment House becomes ever more potent and relevant.

Fencing off the people from the people’s hill/fencing off the hill from the hill’s people: New Parliament House, Canberra Australia.
Image: Kym Smith/Newspix. Reproduced with permission.

Strate­gies against archi­tec­ture II15

Using the for­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Aus­tralian Par­lia­ment as an exam­ple, we might imag­ine that a process of de-fenc­ing needs to be deployed with some urgency. De-fenc­ing par­lia­ments would be a rev­o­lu­tion of sorts, sim­i­lar to dis-park­ing in nine­teenth cen­tu­ry Europe, which opened roy­al hunt­ing grounds in and around Euro­pean cities to pub­lic use by unlock­ing their gates and even­tu­al­ly (as we now take for grant­ed in pub­lic parks) elim­i­nat­ing their bound­ary walls.16

Or not. Just as the dra­ma of bor­der walls between nation-states diverts our atten­tion from far more poignant divi­sions, focus­ing on par­lia­ments of the State is pos­si­bly a red her­ring: an instance of a term that con­tin­ues to inhab­it a seman­tic space, despite its mean­ing hav­ing mutat­ed so pro­found­ly that it bears no sem­blance of its ori­gins. To whol­ly de-fence these deriv­a­tive par­lia­ments would be, quite point­less­ly, to ran­sack them. And even the clever­est par­tial de/​fencing strate­gies — that hide, for exam­ple, fences below the line-of-sight like an eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry Pic­turesque gar­den ha-ha—would fur­ther cloak, rather than reveal, the issue.

Per­haps the role of land­scape Things today is not to be reprised as (non-)representative par­lia­ments for mak­ing laws, but to oper­ate as moral shad­ow par­lia­ments for dis­cussing the things-that-mat­ter that dither­ing bricks-and-mor­tar par­lia­ments for­feit under weight of ear­marks. Just as a renew­able ener­gy rev­o­lu­tion is hap­pen­ing on the ground, effec­tive­ly out­flank­ing the hot air of polit­i­cal impasse, land­scape shad­ow par­lia­ments would, like the flow of a riv­er, always even­tu­al­ly find a way around, or over, the dam wall.

With Things no longer sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly rep­re­sent­ed in con­ven­tion­al par­lia­ments, where might these land­scape-shad­ow-par­lia­ments-of-things be sit­u­at­ed? We could argue every­where and nowhere, in the sense that today polit­i­cal assem­bly occurs online in glob­al forums that tran­scend issues, bor­ders, and cen­sors. But as has become evi­dent, being unteth­ered from time and place also allows us to insu­late our­selves from divi­sive issues. If we feel offend­ed, we can sim­ply float over to oth­er dis­em­bod­ied gath­er­ings of more like-mind­ed souls, trolling as we go.

Ulti­mate­ly, even as social media out­rage spins its wheels, when we real­ly need our voic­es heard we still take to the streets on foot. The seam­less back and forth that fol­lows — between instan­ta­neous online orga­ni­za­tion and tem­po­rary on-the-ground appro­pri­a­tion of space — embod­ies this con­tem­po­rary form of gath­er­ing, which Latour terms hybrid assem­blages.

But if these hybrid assem­blages are to stick for any longer than an out­rage-news-cycle, they can­not just occu­py the fric­tion­less ground of pol­ished air­port foy­ers and polar­ized online echo cham­bers. To stop Things from slip­ping away, land­scape shad­ow par­lia­ments need to lodge into the fis­sures that rid­dle our seem­ing­ly closed” maps.17 Ancient Thingvel­lir thread­ed this nee­dle, with the fis­sures of the Alman­nagjá escarp­ment delin­eat­ing the bound­ary between local clans, so that the par­lia­ment occu­pied an inter­sti­tial every-man’s‑land over which no sin­gle group held jurisdiction.

Grant­ed, embed­ding fledg­ling land­scape forums into tec­ton­ic rift val­leys, or into active no-man’s lands such as the Cypri­ot or Kore­an demil­i­ta­rized zones, is high­ly implau­si­ble. Even the aspi­ra­tions of Friend­ship Park, which strad­dles the US/​Mexico bor­der at its Pacif­ic coast ter­mi­nus, are increas­ing­ly uncer­tain. As one of the few tol­er­at­ed places where (for a few hours on week­ends) US and Mex­i­can res­i­dents are able to inter­act across the bor­der in per­son, Friend­ship Park would seem an ide­al can­di­date for meta­mor­phos­ing into a ful­ly-fledged inter­sti­tial land­scape thing.18

But painful­ly, its fences are too insis­tent, admis­sion to its Fed­er­al some-man’s‑land too selec­tive, and the aching­ly open hori­zons of the bor­der­ing Pacif­ic Ocean too bit­ter­sweet. Indeed, as the seman­tic dis­tinc­tion between fences and walls becomes increas­ing­ly polit­i­cal­ly charged, the bor­der fence” at Friend­ship Park is now so thick­ly armored — leav­ing aper­tures no larg­er than a human fin­ger — that it is in essence already a wall.”19

Nev­er­the­less, our every­day urban land­scapes are riv­en with less emphat­ic divi­sions that cleave between neigh­bor­hoods, dis­cor­dant land-uses, main­tained and derelict land­scapes, and between design visions and real­i­ty. As these rifts fes­ter, design-triage often seeks to suture and heal the wounds. Cer­tain­ly, valid cir­cum­stances for re-stitch­ing the urban fab­ric may be in place, such as the removal of a down­town free­way that tore a com­mu­ni­ty apart for sev­er­al generations.

But in oth­er cir­cum­stances, adja­cent locales may oper­ate accord­ing to decid­ed­ly dis­tinct log­ics, such as a neigh­bour­hood on the oth­er side of the tracks” that is vul­ner­a­ble to gen­tri­fi­ca­tion when the tracks are sunken under­ground or removed. Wedged into these thin sit­u­a­tions, the land­scape thing poten­tial­ly thick­ens the jump between two con­di­tions with a third space that is nei­ther one nor the oth­er. The thick­ened thing inter­venes in over­looked sit­u­a­tions where we didn’t even real­ize there was an issue.20

Interstitial stitch up: Pedestrian tracks across the no man’s land of the Monumental Axis, Brasilia.
Image: © 2017 Google Earth, compiled by Karl Kullmann.

The shape of things

Giv­en that the form of forums has changed, what shape would these inter­sti­tial-land­scape-shad­ow-par­lia­ments take? With shape ety­mo­log­i­cal­ly linked to scape, the landscape imparts sig­nif­i­cant agency through its con­tours.21 This is emphat­i­cal­ly demon­strat­ed at Thingvel­lir, where the unique shape of the land nur­tured the devel­op­ment of site-spe­cif­ic cul­tur­al prac­tices. And although the dis­tinc­tive land-shapes cleaved by divid­ing tec­ton­ic plates are utter­ly unique to Ice­land, else­where in the Viking world Things inhab­it­ed the sim­i­lar­ly scoured forms of post­glacial land­scapes. Both geo­mor­pholo­gies forge topogra­phies suit­ed to gath­er­ing mat­ters of con­cern with­in their irreg­u­lar inflec­tions and folds.

It is no coin­ci­dence that Nordic Things remained active­ly decen­tral­ized for far longer in these amor­phous tec­ton­ic and post­glacial land­scapes than else­where in Europe. In the den­drit­ic land­scapes more typ­i­cal of Con­ti­nen­tal Europe, branch­ing riv­er sys­tems sup­port cen­tral­ized con­trol from the banks of major water­ways, with ten­drils of pow­er extend­ing upstream into the high­lands.22 Here, water serves alle­gor­i­cal­ly for time in the form of the inex­orable flow of Mod­ern progress and the con­ver­gence of his­to­ry. By con­trast, the inflec­tions of tec­ton­ic and post­glacial topogra­phies — which are not pri­mar­i­ly shaped by water — invoke a sense of time that flows not only in one direc­tion, but also varies.23 This land­scape-based tem­po­ral vari­abil­i­ty gives cre­dence to the priv­i­leg­ing of space over time in the chron­i­cling of the Ice­landic Sagas through­out a thou­sand years of non-lin­ear his­to­ry.24

Although we can­not slip back in time to return to ancient Things, we can con­ceive con­tem­po­rary things as land­scape inflec­tions in place of enfenced facil­i­ties. Aside from tec­ton­ic and post­glacial ter­rain, topo­graph­ic inflec­tions also occur nat­u­ral­ly amidst œolian, karstic and vol­canic geo­mor­pholo­gies. The sandy swale, the lime­stone sink­hole and the lava kipu­ka all typ­i­cal­ly absorb water down into a porous sub­stra­tum before any sig­nif­i­cant con­ver­gences of land- (and time-) alter­ing sur­face flows form.

Dendritic terrain (far left) compared with inflected geomorphologies (second from left to right): sand terrain (Salton Sea, California); karst terrain (Zadar, Croatia); and volcanic terrain (Flagstaff, Arizona).
Image: © 2017 Google Maps, compiled by Karl Kullmann.

Or in the absence of these rel­a­tive­ly uncom­mon land­scape types, inflec­tions can be con­fig­ured. To pro­vide con­text to the con­fig­u­ra­tion of land­scape inflec­tions, the deep his­to­ry of gar­den enclo­sure is enlight­en­ing. Cus­tom­ar­i­ly, the arche­typ­al gar­den relies on the fence or wall as the pri­ma­ry demar­ca­tion device through which to dis­tin­guish cul­ti­va­tion from wilder­ness and rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the world at large. Indeed, the ety­mol­o­gy of gar­den” invokes the con­di­tion of enclo­sure: in Old High Ger­man, gar­to means some­thing that is fenced in.”25

The enwalled medieval clois­ter gar­den deployed the most com­plete form of enclo­sure. Priv­i­leg­ing the sacred ver­ti­cal axis over the entan­gle­ments of the garden’s earth­ly con­text, the upper lip of the bound­ary wall, seen from the inside, effec­tive­ly replaced the obscured, nat­ur­al hori­zon with an inter­nal­ized, arti­fi­cial one.26 Over the course of ear­ly to late moder­ni­ty, the gar­den wall was pro­gres­sive­ly decon­struct­ed as hori­zons expand­ed and the ter­res­tri­al hor­i­zon­tal axis dis­placed the divine ver­ti­cal dimen­sion. Ini­tial­ly expressed as the par­tial open­ings and con­trolled exter­nal vis­tas of the Renais­sance gar­den, the Baroque gar­den ulti­mate­ly dis­placed the thresh­old fur­ther out towards the nat­ur­al hori­zon formed by the cur­va­ture of the Earth.27

Fast-for­ward sev­er­al cen­turies, and in today’s dena­tured epoch of eco­log­i­cal crises and genet­ic design, it is increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to demar­cate deci­sive­ly between the garden’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion and the wilder­ness from which it was hewn. Indeed, the wilder­ness has become the gar­den, in the sense that we now stew­ard it and retreat into it just like we once did in the gar­den.28

If the garden’s meta­mor­pho­sis through the ages sounds famil­iar, it is because the sequen­tial de-fenc­ing of the gar­den mir­rors in reverse the enwalling of the land­scape Thing. As gar­dens liq­ue­fied into land­scape, par­lia­ments con­gealed into build­ings. Today, as nature and pol­i­tics con­verge, the his­tor­i­cal inter­sec­tion of the delin­eation of gar­dens and delin­eation of par­lia­ments becomes increas­ing­ly potent. Both are, after all, shaped by their hori­zons; the garden’s is too ambigu­ous, and the parliament’s too inflex­i­ble. For both, a new kind of thresh­old that retrieves the hori­zon from atop walls and from the hazi­ness of the Earth’s cur­va­ture is required.29

Event hori­zons

As we com­pre­hend it, the hori­zon adum­brates our field of per­cep­tion and tracks us as we move across the ground, expand­ing as we ascend, and con­tract­ing in def­er­ence to topo­graph­i­cal­ly promi­nent fea­tures.30 With the notable excep­tion of the horizon’s own­er — who remains teth­ered to its focal point — objects, forces, and events pass through this hori­zon­al thresh­old and into or out of play. In the sense that we per­ceive the future as being dis­pensed from over our for­ward-fac­ing hori­zon, we mere­ly react to these things, col­lid­ing with some of their tra­jec­to­ries and deflect­ing oth­ers, while many sim­ply pass us by.

As was (until recent­ly) pos­si­ble atop Australia’s Par­lia­ment House, we may seek the moral high ground of a hill­top from which to bet­ter fore­see and under­stand the expan­sive issues at hand. We may feel like we are on top of things, but from up on the hill our hori­zons defer fur­ther out­wards, cir­cum­scrib­ing more and more issues but leav­ing us no clos­er to grasp­ing the things-that-matter.

But if we go down into an inflec­tion, the hori­zon tem­porar­i­ly con­tracts to the topo­graph­ic rim of the hol­low. In a topo­graph­ic inflec­tion, the con­ven­tion that teth­ers us (and oth­er things) to the focal point of our indi­vid­ual hori­zons is dis­solved. Instead of retreat­ing unceas­ing­ly into the dis­tance (and the future) with every step we take, the topo­graph­ic hori­zon stays firm­ly teth­ered to the land­scape. As we mill about, not only are we freed from a fix­a­tion on our own hori­zon, but we also share a col­lec­tive hori­zon with everything that is gath­ered togeth­er with­in the fold.

Event horizons: the horizon as formed by the curvature of the Earth from (top to bottom) on the plain; up on the hill; and down in the inflection.
Image: Karl Kullmann.

The topo­graph­ic hori­zon that encir­cles the land­scape inflec­tion acts as a semi-per­me­able thresh­old that gath­ers things. This thresh­old medi­ates between open­ness and con­tain­ment.31 Too open-end­ed and the land­scape-thing is vul­ner­a­ble to dis­si­pa­tion into the back­ground noise of myr­i­ad oth­er things. Too con­tained and the land­scape-thing suf­fo­cates under the lim­i­ta­tions placed on access and par­tic­i­pa­tion. And unlike the gar­den wall or par­lia­men­tary cham­ber, when the time for dis­cus­sion has passed and the time for action is present, we can cross over this col­lec­tive topo­graph­ic thresh­old and leave the land­scape infec­tion in any direction.

Out there, the Earth’s hori­zon resumes nor­mal oper­a­tions and the wider land­scape, with its myr­i­ad issues, comes back into play. Out there, we are primed to extend mat­ters of con­cern beyond our pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with our own present and imme­di­ate futures, which — from eco­log­i­cal crises to genet­ic design — encom­pass vast and minis­cule scales and tem­po­ral­i­ties. And out there, the time for just think­ing glob­al­ly has passed. In a time­ly inver­sion of the worn-out environmentalist’s max­im (to think glob­al­ly, act local­ly), after dis­cussing and think­ing local­ly, we are primed to act globally.

Draw­ing things together

Just as the bound­ing hori­zon tra­di­tion­al­ly dis­tin­guish­es the garden’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the wider world from the world itself, our polit­i­cal hori­zons also cir­cum­scribe modes of rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Latour iden­ti­fies the mul­ti­ple mean­ings of rep­re­sen­ta­tion as a source of ambi­gu­i­ty in polit­i­cal process­es.32 In one sense, rep­re­sen­ta­tion refers to the polit­i­cal and legal rep­re­sen­ta­tion that gath­ers legit­i­mat­ed peo­ple around mat­ters of con­cern. In anoth­er sense, rep­re­sen­ta­tion refers to the tech­nol­o­gy of rep­re­sen­ta­tion that aims for accu­rate por­tray­al of mat­ters. And in a third sense, rep­re­sen­ta­tion refers to the artis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion that cre­ative­ly inter­prets matters.

Latour zeroes in on this third form, not­ing that the his­to­ry of paint­ing and oth­er artis­tic modes focus­es on an aes­thet­ic of mat­ters-of-fact (objects) at the expense of an aes­thet­ic of mat­ters-of-con­cern (things).33 Across cen­turies of inno­va­tion in visu­al­iza­tion tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies — from the inven­tion of per­spec­ti­val pro­jec­tion to the devel­op­ment of CAD — we have mas­tered the draw­ing of objects. And yet we remain unable to sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly draw things; to draw togeth­er, sim­u­late, mate­ri­al­ize, approx­i­mate, or ful­ly mod­el to scale, what a thing in all of its com­plex­i­ty, is.”34 To redress this imbal­ance Latour asks, how to rep­re­sent, and through which medi­um, the sites where peo­ple meet to dis­cuss their mat­ters of con­cern?”35

The chal­lenge of ade­quate­ly rep­re­sent­ing things is reflect­ed in the endur­ing search for the sub­stan­tive land­scape that lies beyond its scenic rep­re­sen­ta­tion.36 From maps to mod­els to vignettes, the ambigu­ous and often con­tra­dic­to­ry nature of land­scape has proven to be a slip­pery sub­ject to define and rep­re­sent.37 To address the tech­ni­cal imped­i­ments to draw­ing both land­scape and things, we could antic­i­pate updat­ing Latour’s lin­eage of rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al tech­nolo­gies to include today’s cut­ting edge appa­ra­tus. We might deploy map­ping drones and LiDAR sen­sors for the task, on the assump­tion that ever-high­er mod­el­ling fideli­ty is required to push past the object and draw forth the thing.38

Seeking things in high fidelity: 2cm resolution drone map of the Albany Bulb wasteland, San Francisco Bay, California.
Image: Karl Kullmann in collaboration with 3DRobotics.

Yet even if we cap­ture the land­scape of things from every con­ceiv­able angle, and mod­el every speck of dust into 1:1 scale point-clouds, we would still fil­ter things through our own hazy per­cep­tu­al frame­works. To achieve a tru­ly eco­log­i­cal out­look (or inlook), we require what Tim­o­thy Mor­ton calls an immer­sive zero-per­son per­spec­tive” that replaces the anthro­pocen­tric dis­tance of our favored first- and third-per­son per­spec­tives of land­scapes and of things.39 This zero-per­spec­tive emerges from the real­iza­tion that, with every­thing prox­i­mate to every­thing else amidst net­works of things, there is no out­side from which humans can secure­ly observe.

With­out going so far as to com­plete­ly negate our­selves, we can take the zero-per­son per­spec­tive to mean par­tic­i­pat­ing in the land­scapes in which we are immersed. In search of par­tic­i­pa­tion, gar­den­ing is one of the most immer­sive acts we can under­take in our envi­ron­ment. The gar­den emerges unpre­dictably through the shared endeav­ors of the gar­den­er, the gar­den, and many oth­er things, some of which are found with­in the gar­den itself (plants, worms, paths), but also less imme­di­ate things that encom­pass vaster scales (cli­mate change, pes­ti­cides, genet­ic mod­i­fi­ca­tion). As the gar­den­er, we may start out with a pre­de­ter­mined vision, but we con­tin­u­al­ly amend and adapt our designs as the gar­den reveals its agency over time.40 As we are assim­i­lat­ed into the gar­den, we become an immersed zero-person.

Zero person. Image: Mark Tansey, Robbe-Grillet Cleansing Every Object in Sight, 1981.
Oil on canvas with crayon, 182.9cm x 183.4cm. Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), gift of Mr. and Mrs. Warren Brandt.
© 2017 Mark Tansey, DIGITAL IMAGE © 2017, The Museum of Modern Art/Scala, Florence.

Land­scapes of uncer­tain­ty41

Both lit­er­al­ly and metaphor­i­cal­ly, the act of gar­den­ing illu­mi­nates some­thing pecu­liar to land­scape. Where­as pro­gram­mat­ic capac­i­ty of build­ings is a rel­a­tive­ly sta­ble con­cept in archi­tec­ture, pre­de­ter­min­ing the use­ful­ness of a designed (or cul­ti­vat­ed) land­scape in advance of its actu­al­iza­tion remains an impre­cise art.42 Think of land­scape in terms of the weath­er upon which it is behold­en, or in terms of the flow of the rivers that run through it. Even with con­tin­u­al­ly advanc­ing com­pu­ta­tions that vir­tu­al­ly mod­el (both sides of) the Earth’s weath­er sys­tems, we still can­not fore­cast local weath­er con­di­tions with any use­ful accu­ra­cy beyond a short time hori­zon. Sim­i­lar­ly, advanced flu­id dynam­ics mod­el­ing can­not pre­de­fine the pas­sage of a water mol­e­cule with­in a river.

The uncer­tain­ty inher­ent in land­scape also per­tains to humans, who may not use a land­scape in the way it was intend­ed. In this con­text, plac­ing too much pres­sure on land­scape par­lia­ments to per­form as places for dis­cus­sion may back­fire by cre­at­ing intim­i­dat­ing spaces that peo­ple avoid alto­geth­er. Indeed, the neme­sis of land­scape things is the Thing-par­lia­ment recon­sti­tut­ed as the clichéd local amphithe­ater that is hol­low in form and func­tion, gath­er­ing dust as an emp­ty mon­u­ment to nos­tal­gia for com­mu­ni­ty gath­er­ings of yore.

Rather than expect­ing land­scape things to be rou­tine­ly par­lia­men­tary from the out­set, per­haps their role needs to be ini­ti­at­ed in more down to earth terms. The epi­dem­ic of peo­ple, and par­tic­u­lar­ly chil­dren, who are unhealth­ily habit­u­at­ed to the indoors and who do not have reg­u­lar access to stim­u­lat­ing land­scape expe­ri­ences is well doc­u­ment­ed.43 In this con­text, land­scape things would prin­ci­pal­ly just col­lect peo­ple, draw­ing them out of the Inter­net of things and into world of Things so that they are more like­ly to par­tic­i­pate in the pub­lic realm.

Drawn together: “Sun Salutation,” by Nikola Bašić, Zadar, Croatia.
Image: Karl Kullmann.

In many sit­u­a­tions, these con­tem­po­rary pro­to-Things may fail to meta­mor­phose into ful­ly-fledged land­scape par­lia­ments. Their cir­cum­stances may sim­ply not enter­tain suf­fi­cient­ly potent con­flu­ences of things in time and space to re-cat­alyze the land­scape as a par­tic­i­pa­to­ry agent of polit­i­cal action. But giv­en how remark­ably adept both land­scape and human actors are at adapt­ing and adopt­ing sites and sub­cul­tures in unfore­seen ways, these sit­u­a­tions are bound to become something.

And in sit­u­a­tions where con­di­tions suf­fice and a press­ing mat­ter of con­cern is at hand, pro­to-Things should flour­ish. Absent the con­ven­tion­al appa­ra­tus­es of fed­er­al, state, or local gov­er­nance, at what oth­er scales might these new land­scape par­lia­ments be dis­persed? Per­haps they might draw with­in their hori­zons each of the 867 ter­res­tri­al biore­gions iden­ti­fied across the Earth.44 Or their loca­tions could be cal­i­brat­ed with pro­ject­ed sea-lev­el rise, not on high­er ground but to be inun­dat­ed inten­tion­al­ly, as a wet-feet real­i­ty check on ris­ing tides. Or they could estab­lish nich­es in those ubiq­ui­tous infra­struc­tur­al buffer” zones that dis­sect urban land­scapes but remain large­ly ignored. Or, as tra­di­tion­al zoo­log­i­cal gar­dens become less and less rel­e­vant, new Things might be set with­in decom­mis­sioned nat­u­ral­is­tic” ani­mal exhibits, thus plac­ing them on the oth­er side of a press­ing eco­log­i­cal issue. In each sit­u­a­tion, these Things — these Par­lia­ments of Rain — might help us to more ful­ly com­pre­hend the things that matter.


By Deni Ruggeri

Karl Kullmann’s com­pelling essay begins with the pow­er­ful image of a Scan­di­na­vian Þing, a land­scape that served as the back­ground of (demo­c­ra­t­ic?) deci­sion-mak­ing in pre-indus­tri­al times. The exam­ple of a place and time where geo­log­i­cal and social frac­tures are mend­ed togeth­er through demo­c­ra­t­ic debat­ing helps the author warn of our dis­tanc­ing from land­scape as a thing-that-mat­ters toward a land­scape of things-as-mat­ter, inan­i­mate objects whose mean­ing and con­se­quen­tial­i­ty are being put into ques­tion by con­tem­po­rary con­di­tions of glob­al­iza­tion and the dig­i­tal world. As is often the case, how­ev­er, the truth is found some­where in the middle.

Things-as-mat­ter do mat­ter. For those of us con­cerned with land­scape democ­ra­cy, things in the land­scape, even the most mun­dane ones, mat­ter. They help orga­nize and chore­o­graph our lives and act as ves­sels of iden­ti­ty and mean­ing. They may be objects of con­tention or, as Randy Hes­ter calls them, sacred struc­tures of inclu­sion, iden­ti­ty, and demo­c­ra­t­ic life. Rather than strate­giz­ing against archi­tec­ture, fences, and bound­aries, the future of par­lia­men­tary Things may require the acti­va­tion of process­es of trans­for­ma­tion of things-as-mat­ter into oppor­tu­ni­ties to insti­gate new covenants between peo­ple and peo­ple, and between peo­ple and land­scape. Rather than eschew­ing things-as-mat­ter, the best path for­ward may be to con­ceive of thing-mak­ing as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to mend social frac­tures, inspire col­lec­tive action, and imag­ine bet­ter futures for the earth and the peo­ple it supports.

Like the fences that sep­a­rate Canberra’s Par­lia­ment from its con­stituents, the dis­tinc­tion between archi­tec­ture and land­scape is, in my view, a false lega­cy, but it has not pre­vent­ed the per­for­mance of demo­c­ra­t­ic life in the par­lia­ment of things. Scat­tered through­out the land­scape of the Mod­ernist city, aban­doned shop­ping malls, emp­ty park­ing lots, vacant school­yards, and old free­way viaducts are being trans­formed into new Things for the per­for­mance of com­mu­ni­ty life.

For exam­ple, in my own neigh­bor­hood of Oslo, Nor­way, not far from Snøhetta’s Opera House, the Losæter com­mu­ni­ty gar­dens illus­trate how the par­lia­ment of things is per­form­ing its trans­for­ma­tive func­tions. Part fenced and part open, Losæter is both gar­den and land­scape, a place in between, lit­er­al­ly float­ing on a high­way buried just ten years ago to make room for bet­ter nat­ur­al con­nec­tions. There, nature and cul­ture blur in an indis­sol­u­ble gestalt. While mod­ern, car-based lifestyles and eco­nom­ics con­tin­ue to flow with­out inter­rup­tion through the Opera tun­nel below, Losæter up above is acti­vat­ed with the type of pub­lic life and process­es of the Thing. Deci­sions made here are seem­ing­ly mun­dane — such as which toma­to plant grows best, which soils might be most pro­duc­tive, or which ancient grain might be able to per­form bet­ter in the cold Nor­we­gian land­scape — but their hori­zon con­nects the com­mu­ni­ty of cit­i­zen farm­ers and vis­i­tors to larg­er mat­ters of resilience, adap­ta­tion, and the sus­te­nance of human life.

Where­as the Oslo of things-as-mat­ter has tend­ed toward gen­tri­fi­ca­tion and den­si­fi­ca­tion, elec­tric cars and con­ges­tion charges, the peo­ple of Losæter are mak­ing Things with mean­ing in grow­ing organ­ic and sus­tain­able crops, while also build­ing com­mu­ni­ty. For exam­ple, as res­i­dents gath­er to bake bread and exchange food prepa­ra­tion prac­tices, social jus­tice is being rede­fined through new interactions/​dialogues between old and new cit­i­zens and the per­for­mance of rit­u­als cel­e­brat­ing people’s renewed con­nec­tion to the nat­ur­al world.

What role may land­scape archi­tects play in the evo­lu­tion and trans­for­ma­tion of our cities from par­lia­ments of things into land­scapes of Things that mat­ter? And what new and old knowl­edge and exper­tise might be nec­es­sary to envi­sion how the future land­scape might look and per­form? Design­ing and plan­ning the land­scape of Things will not be, as in the past, the work of few, pow­er­ful peo­ple and their experts. Land­scape trans­for­ma­tions will require full and rich par­tic­i­pa­tion, and part­ner­ships between experts and cit­i­zen sci­en­tists, activists, and entre­pre­neurs invest­ing their hearts and stew­ard­ing the land­scapes of Things-that-mat­ter for gen­er­a­tions yet to come.



Agust Gud­munds­son, Tec­ton­ics of the Thingvel­lir Fis­sure Swarm, SW Ice­land,” Jour­nal of Struc­tur­al Geol­o­gy 9: 1 (1987): 61 – 69. Richard Beck, Ice­land’s Thou­sand Year Old Par­lia­ment,” Scan­di­na­vian Stud­ies and Notes 10: 5 (1929): 149 – 153.


Ken­neth R. Olwig, Lim­i­nal­i­ty, Sea­son­al­i­ty and Land­scape,” Land­scape Research 30: 2 (2005): 259 – 271.


Bar­bara Döle­mey­er, Thing Site, Tie, Ting Place: Venues for the Admin­is­tra­tion of Law,” in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, eds., Mak­ing Things Pub­lic: Atmos­pheres of Democ­ra­cy (Cam­bridge: MIT Press, 2005), 260 – 267.


Mar­tin Hei­deg­ger, The Thing,” in Mar­tin Hei­deg­ger, Poet­ry Lan­guage Thought, trans. Albert Hof­s­tadter (New York, NY: Harp­er & Row, 1971), 161 – 180173.


Ken­neth R. Olwig, The Jut­land Cipher: Unlock­ing the Mean­ing and Pow­er of a Con­test­ed Land­scape Ter­rain,” in Michael Jones and Ken­neth Olwig, eds., Nordic Land­scapes: Region and Belong­ing on the North­ern Edge of Europe (Min­neapo­lis, MN: Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 2008), 12 – 51. Álvaro Sevil­la-Buitra­go, Urbs in Rure: His­tor­i­cal Enclo­sure and the Extend­ed Urban­iza­tion of the Coun­try­side,” in Neil Bren­ner, ed., Implosions/​Explosions (Berlin, Ger­many: Jovis Ver­lag, 2014), 236 – 259.


Ken­neth R. Olwig, Hei­deg­ger, Latour and the Reifi­ca­tion of Things: The Inver­sion and Spa­tial Enclo­sure of the Sub­stan­tive Land­scape of Things — The Lake Dis­trict Case,” Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geog­ra­phy 95: 3 (2013): 251 – 273: 256. Reifi­ca­tion refers to the process of some­thing abstract becom­ing real in a phys­i­cal or mate­r­i­al sense.


Refer to Karl Kull­mann, Route Fit­tko: Trac­ing Wal­ter Benjamin’s Path of No Return,” Ground Up (Delin­eations) 5 (2016): 70 – 75.


Anne Whis­ton Spirn, The Gran­ite Gar­den: Urban Nature and Human Design (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1984), 91.


Paul J. Crutzen, The Anthro­pocene”,” in Eckart Ehlers and Thomas Krafft, eds., Earth Sys­tem Sci­ence in the Anthro­pocene (Berlin & Hei­del­berg, Ger­many: Springer 2006), 13 – 18.


Bruno Latour, Reassem­bling the Social: An Intro­duc­tion to Actor-Net­work-The­o­ry (Oxford, Eng­land: Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2005). Bruno Latour, Agency at the Time of the Anthro­pocene,” New Lit­er­ary His­to­ry 45 (2014): 1 – 18. Bruno Latour, Which Pro­to­col for the New Col­lec­tive Exper­i­ments?,” (2001), http://​www​.bruno​-latour​.fr/​n​o​d​e/372.


Bruno Latour, From Realpoli­tik to Ding­poli­tik or How to Make Things Pub­lic,” in Latour and Weibel, Mak­ing Things Pub­lic, op. cit. (see note 3), 4 – 31: 9, added emphases.


On the cul­tur­al impact of the whole earth image, see Denis Cos­grove, Geog­ra­phy and Vision: See­ing, Imag­in­ing and Rep­re­sent­ing the World (Lon­don, Eng­land: I.B. Tau­rus, 2008), chap­ter 1.


Tim­o­thy Mor­ton, Hyper­ob­jects: Phi­los­o­phy and Ecol­o­gy after the End of the World (Min­neapo­lis MN: Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 2013), 1


Except that the First Aus­tralians have nev­er iden­ti­fied with or felt includ­ed in the nar­ra­tive of the people’s hill. The Abo­rig­i­nal Tent Embassy that has occu­pied the lawn at the foot of Australia’s Hous­es of Par­lia­ment for almost half a cen­tu­ry demon­strates this glar­ing exclu­sion. Inci­den­tal­ly, as the fastest mov­ing con­ti­nen­tal plate on Earth, Aus­tralia is plow­ing north­wards and slight­ly to the east at a rate of 7cm per year.


With apolo­gies to Ein­stürzende Neubauten’s 1991 album of the same name.


The archa­ic verb dis­park means to divest a park of its pri­vate use” by throw[ing] park­land open.” See Charles Tal­but Onions, ed.), The Short­er Eng­lish Dic­tio­nary on His­tor­i­cal Prin­ci­pals (Oxford, Eng­land: Claren­don Press, 1964): 530.


The clo­sure of the map” refers to the claim­ing of (near­ly) all of the land on Earth by nation-states, leav­ing the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry with­out ter­ra incog­ni­ta. How­ev­er, while the map” may be offi­cial­ly closed” from the hege­mon­ic and spa­tial­ly exclu­sive per­spec­tive of West­ern car­tog­ra­phy, in many instances it was nev­er open to begin with. For exam­ple, in the case of Euro­pean set­tle­ment” of Aus­tralia, the British legal def­i­n­i­tion of ter­ra nul­lius con­ve­nient­ly over­looked the pre-exist­ing map­pings of the indige­nous residents.


For in depth explo­rations of the Mexico/​US bor­der­lands, refer to Michael Dear, Imag­in­ing a Third Nation: US-Mex­i­co Bor­der,” Ground Up (Delin­eations) 5: 46 – 55. See also Glo­ria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/​La Fron­tera: The New Mes­ti­za (San Fran­cis­co, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1987).


Although walls capa­bly defend­ed com­mu­ni­ties for thou­sands of years, by the six­teenth cen­tu­ry medieval for­ti­fi­ca­tions were increas­ing­ly inef­fec­tive against new bal­lis­tic devel­op­ments. As the Renais­sance star forts of north­ern Europe exem­pli­fy, strate­gi­cal­ly shaped, hor­i­zon­tal defen­sive earth­works sup­plant­ed ver­ti­cal defen­sive mason­ry. In the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, both were con­signed to irrel­e­vance as long-range bal­lis­tics mate­ri­al­ized from over the hori­zon in every unan­tic­i­pat­ed direc­tion. As the world fold­ed in on itself, life retreat­ed under­ground, mak­ing the final defen­sive shield the thick­ness of land­scape itself. It is no sur­prise then, that the return of bor­der walls has revived some decid­ed­ly medieval devices for their cir­cum­ven­tion in the form of lad­ders, cat­a­pults, and tunnels.


Refer to Karl Kull­mann, Thin Parks/​Thick Edges: Towards a Lin­ear Park Typol­o­gy for (Post)infrastructural Sites,” Jour­nal of Land­scape Archi­tec­ture 6: 2 (2011): 70 – 81.


Scape derives from the Dutch suf­fix schap, which, like the Ger­man suf­fix schaft, refers to shape. See Edward S. Casey, Rep­re­sent­ing Place: Land­scape Paint­ing and Maps (Min­neapo­lis, MN: Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 2002), and Ken­neth R. Olwig ““This is not a Land­scape”: Cir­cu­lat­ing Ref­er­ence and Land Shap­ing,” in Hannes Palang, Helen Sooväli, Marc Antrop, and Gun­hild Set­ten, eds., Euro­pean Rur­al Land­scapes: Per­sis­tence and Change in a Glob­al­is­ing Envi­ron­ment (Dor­drecht, The Nether­lands: Kluw­er Aca­d­e­m­ic Pub­lish­ers, 2004), 41 – 65.


Con­ti­nen­tal Europe,” as used here, excludes the Scan­di­na­vian Peninsula.


See Bernard Cache, Earth Moves: The Fur­nish­ing of Ter­ri­to­ries (Cam­bridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995).


See Kirt­sen Has­trup, Ice­landic Topog­ra­phy and the Sense of Iden­ti­ty,” in Jones and Olwig, eds., Nordic Land­scapes, op. cit. (see note 5), 53 – 76. Here I am co-opt­ing the title of Manuel De Lan­da, A Thou­sand Years of Non­lin­ear His­to­ry (New York, NY: Zone Books, 1997).


See Bernard St-Denis, Just what is a gar­den?,” Stud­ies in the His­to­ry of Gar­dens & Designed Land­scapes 27: 1 (2007): 61 – 76; Peter Mar­cuse, Walls of Fear and Walls of Sup­port,” in Nan Ellin, ed., Archi­tec­ture of Fear (New York, NY: Prince­ton Archi­tec­tur­al Press, 1997), 101 – 14; and John Dixon Hunt, Greater Per­fec­tions: The Prac­tice of Gar­den The­o­ry (Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia Press, 2000).


Rob Aben and Sask­ia de Wit, The Enclosed Gar­den: His­to­ry and Devel­op­ment of the Hor­tus Con­clusus and its Rein­tro­duc­tion into the Present-day Urban Land­scape (Rot­ter­dam, The Nether­lands: 010 Pub­lish­ers, 1999).


Allen S. Weiss, Unnat­ur­al Hori­zons: Para­dox and Con­tra­dic­tion in Land­scape Archi­tec­ture (New York, NY: Prince­ton Archi­tec­tur­al Press, 1998).


Refer to William Cronon, The Trou­ble with Wilder­ness,” in William Cronon, ed., Uncom­mon Ground: Rethink­ing the Human Place in Nature (New York, NY: W. W. Nor­ton & Co., 1995), 69 – 90.


For a more in-depth account of gar­den hori­zons, refer to Karl Kull­mann, Con­cave Worlds, Arti­fi­cial Hori­zons: Refram­ing the Urban Pub­lic Gar­den,” Stud­ies in the His­to­ry of Gar­dens and Designed Land­scapes 37: 1 (2016): 15 – 32.


Refer to James J. Gib­son, The Eco­log­i­cal Approach to Visu­al Per­cep­tion (Hills­dale, NJ: Lawrence Erl­baum Asso­ciates, 1986).


For this con­cept of open con­tain­ment,” I am draw­ing on the work of Arakawa and Gins. Refer to Shusaku Arakawa and Made­line Gins, Archi­tec­ture: Sites of Reversible Des­tiny (Lon­don, Eng­land: Acad­e­my Edi­tions, 1994).


Latour, From Realpoli­tik to Ding­poli­tik or How to Make Things Public.”




Bruno Latour, A Cau­tious Prometheus?,” keynote lec­ture for the Net­works of Design meet­ing of the Design His­to­ry Soci­ety, Fal­mouth, Corn­wall, Sep­tem­ber 3, 2008: 12, added emphases.


Latour, From Realpoli­tik to Ding­poli­tik or How to Make Things Pub­lic,” 6.


Refer to Ken­neth R. Olwig, Recov­er­ing the Sub­stan­tive Nature of Land­scape,” Annals of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Geo­g­ra­phers 86: 4 (1996): 630 – 653.


Refer to Karl Kull­mann, Hyper-real­ism and Loose-real­i­ty: the Lim­i­ta­tions of Dig­i­tal Real­ism and Alter­na­tive Prin­ci­ples in Land­scape Design Visu­al­iza­tion,” Jour­nal of Land­scape Archi­tec­ture 9: 3 (2014), 20 – 31.


Refer to Karl Kull­mann, The Satellite’s Prog­e­ny: Dig­i­tal Chorog­ra­phy in the Age of Drone Vision,” Forty-Five: Jour­nal of Out­side Research 157. http://​forty​-five​.com/​p​a​p​e​r​s/157


Tim­o­thy Mor­ton, Zero Land­scapes in the Time of Hyper­ob­jects,” Graz Archi­tec­tur­al Mag­a­zine 7 (2011): 78 – 87.


As Robert Har­bi­son observes, a gar­den­er takes what is there and begins to bend it to his will, but it is always get­ting beyond him.” Robert Har­bi­son, Eccen­tric Spaces (New York, NY: Knopf, 1977), 4. For a more in-depth account of the design­er as gar­den­er, refer to Karl Kull­mann The Gar­den of Entan­gled Paths: Land­scape Phe­nom­e­na at the Albany Bulb Waste­land,” Land­scape Review 171 (2017): 58 – 77.


For an explo­ration of this top­ic, refer to the inau­gur­al edi­tion of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley jour­nal Ground Up (Land­scapes of Uncer­tain­ty) 1 (Berke­ley, 2012).


Refer to Karl Kull­mann, The Use­ful­ness of Use­less­ness: Towards a Land­scape Frame­work for Un-acti­vat­ed Urban Pub­lic Space,” Archi­tec­tur­al The­o­ry Review 19: 2 (2015): 154 – 173.


Refer to Bil­lie Giles-Cor­ti, Melis­sa H. Broomhall, Matthew Knuiman, Cather­ine Collins, Kate Dou­glas, Kevin Ng, Andrea Lange, and Robert J. Dono­van, Increas­ing Walk­ing: How Impor­tant Is Dis­tance To, Attrac­tive­ness, and Size of Pub­lic Open Space?,” Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Pre­ven­tive Med­i­cine 28: 2 Sup­pl 2 (2005): 169 – 176.


As defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature.


Karl Kull­mann is a land­scape archi­tect, urban design­er, and asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, where he teach­es cours­es in land­scape and urban design, the­o­ry, and dig­i­tal delin­eation. Kullman’s schol­ar­ship and cre­ative work explore the urban agency of the designed and dis­cov­ered land­scape. He has pub­lished wide­ly on this area through diverse lens­es, includ­ing topo­graph­i­cal­ly cal­i­brat­ed urban­ism, tax­onomies of lin­ear land­scapes, re-imag­in­ing the enclosed gar­den, strate­gies for land­scapes of decline, land­scapes of (dis)orientation, frame­works for land­scape use­less­ness, and var­i­ous angles on tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies of land­scape imag­ing, rep­re­sen­ta­tion, map­ping, and data-scap­ing. This research is active­ly applied through design prac­tice, with built, urban, land­scape projects in Chi­na, Aus­tralia, and Ger­many and numer­ous design com­pe­ti­tion prizes and exhi­bi­tions. Email: karl.​kullmann@​berkeley.​edu

Deni Rug­geri is an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor in the Insti­tute for Land­scape Archi­tec­ture and Spa­tial Plan­ning at the Nor­we­gian Uni­ver­si­ty of Life Sci­ences, where he is also co-direc­tor of the Cen­tre for Land­scape Democ­ra­cy. Before join­ing NMBU, he taught in the USA for over a decade, includ­ing at Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ore­gon. Ruggeri’s research, pub­li­ca­tions and teach­ing focus on socio-eco­log­i­cal dimen­sions of land­scape and urban design. He is par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in the influ­ence land­scapes have on people’s place iden­ti­ty and attach­ment and in devel­op­ing new tools to pro­mote more sus­tain­able lifestyles, phys­i­cal and men­tal well-being, eco­log­i­cal health, eco­nom­ic via­bil­i­ty, iden­ti­ty, delight, and bio­phil­ia in neigh­bor­hood set­tings. Rug­geri has prac­ticed land­scape archi­tec­ture in Cal­i­for­nia (SWA Group) and Col­orado (Design Work­shop). He has inter­na­tion­al expe­ri­ence lead­ing com­mu­ni­ty design and vision­ing process­es and has served as an advi­sor for the Euro­pean New Town Plat­form in Brus­sels. His work has received fund­ing from the US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the EU Inter­reg IV pro­gram, and the Carip­lo Foun­da­tion (Italy), among oth­er sources. Rug­geri holds a Ph.D. in Land­scape Archi­tec­ture from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, grad­u­ate degrees in both Land­scape Archi­tec­ture and City Plan­ning from Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty, and a Lau­rea in Architet­tura from the Politec­ni­co in Milan, Italy. Email: deni.​ruggeri@​nmbu.​no