Land Surveys and Representation Methods
Scenarios between urban areas and the countryside. Strategies to survey and representing the landscape.
Current perception and the appearance of the landscape are subjected to changes that are increasing, due to the quantity and quality of the human intervention on the landscape.
Nevertheless, even if the environment influenced the development of human civilization in some territories, it has been the man who shaped and modified the environments, changing them in a significative way. These altering interventions remain still visible even when the human acts (operations) cease to exist, giving life to hybrid landscapes that, while showing signs of anthropization, do not lack a “human” component.
The course aims to recover the interest lost for the marginal rural areas in decline and semi-abandoned areas, intervening both on the landscape and on the perception of itself by the inhabitants and tourists.
The ultimate goal is to make the area under examination a place where both activities related to slow lifestyle and activities of crucial importance can be concentrated and to preserve and encourage the cultivation of the typical species of the area; a place where visitors can become both users of the landscape and observers of a process aimed at sustainable lifestyle.
A system that could exploit the pre-existing features of the territory and lead to a functional redevelopment entrusted to the reintroduction in the local production of tree species that are not used anymore, providing also the insertion of some punctual elements from the city to the countryside amplify and intensify the perception and exploratory experience of the rural landscape of the hinterland.
So many are the meanings of the term “landscape”, that it is difficult to find an exhaustive and single definition for it. Different are also the paradoxes that are associated with the word and its essence. Being the landscape a phenomenon that exists in time and space and means of how it is perceived, therefore concerning the experience of the subject, it doesn’t exist in itself – hence the attention given from contemporary culture to the understanding of it and the numerous different definitions for it.
This first paradox follows another one, stating that, due to its nature of being a phenomenon, it is impossible to represent the landscape. The landscape is not identifiable with a place nor a territory. From here, the problem of its representation arises (Vorstellung). In European languages, especially French and Italian, “landscape” refers more to its representation than to the object represented. Instead, in Germany, England, and Holland, it refers to the region, county or homeland itself.
In French, for example, “paysage” contains the word “pays” (Country/Town) but thanks to the suffix -age at the end, it would refer to a glance or a representation of the object through an experience. Landscape as the mix between the Subject (individual or community) and the Object (nature, environment or territory).
Since landscape could be treated as an intercessor between the man and his environment, it also could represent how the human actions shaped and influenced the nature all around. It is, in fact, a way of feeling and representing Nature. In Europe, landscape painting has always occupied a marginal position in the history of arts: it was almost always the background for human figures or sketches and preliminary studies for other works. The landscape painting began to be identified as a genre in the 17th century with Dutch painters and in the 19th century with the Romanticism, but even if silent, it has always been there all along.
Starting from the Renaissance, the landscape becomes the most used background for biblical and mythological plots and, as said before, it has been shaped by the human mind (ideal landscape). Such scenes of the European tradition were laid in the open air, thanks to the pastoral Arcadian spirit. The genre has become marginal again later, after Impressionism and Postimpressionism in the 20th century, but it can still be seen in Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism.
In the 1990s, the role of landscape painting is figurative and follows the trend of the site-specific art, land art, maps, photos and territories while the “artistic landscape” is again combined with the notion related to geography. Though it is important to remember that even in paintings (the immediate way to represent a visual experience), the landscape is often improved with human actions and events.
While analyzing a landscape painting, a landscape description or a description of a landscape painting, it arises the question about the relationship between direct experience and convention. This report is formed by four components: reality, convention, pictorial image and word. These components are glued together by a mediator (conscious imagination), whom inside tradition, direct experience, pictorial and verbal representation meet.
In fact, the description of a landscape, pictorial or literal, is not only a visual phenomenon, but it engages other data brought together by the other senses, for instance, various smells or particular movements, touching or feelings of the atmosphere (warmth, cold, etc.…).
Students will have to produce some final works in a shape of exercises of reading, exercises of reinterpretation of the landscape around themselves, even as modification of the current situation with interesting reinvention of the iconic landscapes.
Students, organized in teams to implement all phases of the work, from the survey stage to the representation time, have to describe the landscape by contemporary point of views, first of all re-using natural signs of the land, coming from historical maps, reading agricultural signs with their new and old geometries, the recycling of the existing ruins, anamorphosis performances, always working on the photograms, from the orthographic view extracted by Google Earth and managed by a GIS, to the perspective point of view supplied by a video shooting, from the video to the picture and vice versa. References based on contemporary best practices and landscape strategies are supplied during the lessons.
Objectives in terms of plates to produce:
Large-scale analysis of the province, going on to identify the aspects related to the quality of the green areas:
- different ecosystems which mainly compose Italian landscape, cultivated meadows, woods, rural and semi-rural areas;
- rural morpho-typologies to see the difference between the lands (what type of vegetation do they have) and which system is working in that particular territory;
- analysis of the infrastructural system and how it changed during the centuries, and how road network design matrix is still visible in the modern one;
- oppositions between car connections and contemporary sustainable roads, green corridors, bike and pedestrian slow pathways;
- rediscovery of neglected landscapes by the gaze of users. It is possible to identify different categories of users that differ in the use they do of the landscape examined;
- proposals of different point of view about the reuse of the agricultural landscape: art installations and new forms of landscape for slow tourism.
Metric representation of the Earth surface through maps and 3D models implies the use of measurements and surveys, that can be ‘contact’ measurements such as traditional topographic surveys, or ‘remote’ survey, such as aerial or satellite photographic survey (in visible or non-visible portion of light spectrum). All these measurements produce geographic data that are nowadays digital, digital maps, digital satellite images or aerial orthomosaics, digital terrain models or level curves, for orography.
The analysis and comparison of geographic data coming from different sources and, therefore, with different contents and details, needs common and precisely defined reference systems, the definition of precise rules for 2D cartographic representation, and powerful software tools for a semi-automatic extraction of metric and thematic information. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) give the possibility to overlap properly, compare, analyze, integrate, many different kind of geographical data, to study space distribution of characteristics, and time variability, and to generate new maps for specific purposes.
Recalls on basis of metric environmental survey and representation (Topography, Cartography, Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing). Basis of digital images, acquisition and processing.
Geographic Information Systems : definitions and use. Practice with aerial and satellite images, digital maps and other georeferenced data, both in raster and vector format.
1 - An intermediate test with questions on theoretical lessons.
2 - At the end of the practical part of the course, a set of maps have to be produced following detailed instructions, that support and integrate the descriptions to be produced for the analyses required in ‘Land survey and Representation’ part of the integrated course.