Thursday 28 March 2013

The Language of Landscapes

‘Landscapes are the world itself and may also be metaphors of the world. A tree can be both a tree and The Tree, a path both a path and The Path. A tree in the Garden of Eden represents the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge. It becomes the archetype of Tree. When a path represents the Path of Enlightenment of Buddhism or the Stations of the Cross of Christianity it is no longer a mere path, but The Path ’

                                    - Anne Whiston Spirn (The Language of Landscapes)


Landscapes are stories and all have the elements of language. Languages have shape, structure, formation, material and function, Landscapes have these characteristics as well as but often need to be read closer to understand them.

We seek to write our own existence onto these landscapes, but we are not the only ones. The landscape is constantly evolving, changing, creating new stories. In some ways, those who seek to carve their own existence on a landscape are a mere blip on the radar of time.

Landscapes are not merely read, but they can be seen, smelled, heard and touched, (to begin reading the landscape, you have to somewhat become one with it). The stones crunch underfoot, the wind whistles through the long grass and the creaking of trees swaying in the wind. All of these are elements of a story happening in the landscape; these devices inspired many of the early Romantics such as William Wordsworth as they sought to convey the grandeur of the landscape.

The language of landscapes is vast and confusing and we only read small sections at a time (often from very different viewpoints). So that what we end up with is often a false description of the landscape as a whole.
Notes from: The Language of Landscape, Anne Whiston Spirn