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ECOLOGY AND LANDSCAPE


~\\s AGENTS OF CREATIVITY
Jt
C OR NE R

Unch,mged wichm to see ali changed without,


Is a blanh loe and hard to bear, no doubt.
SAMUEL TAYl.OR C OL.ERJDGE1

The existence of which we are mosc assured and which wc know best
is unquestionably our own, for of evcry othtr objcct wc havc notlons
which may be considered externa! and superficial, whereas, of
ourselves, our percepcion IS interna! and profound. What, then,
do wefind?
HENRI BERGSON 2

ífhe processes of which ecology and creativity speak are fundamental to the
_work of landscape architecture. Whether b1ological or imaginaLive, evolu-
Mox Ernst. Toe Bewildered Plwec (u planete confuse). /942. 011 on canvos. 119 X /40 an.
Co/lecuon o( rhe Ttl Avrv Museum. C 1995 Artisu Ri¡hrs Socmy {ARS), New Yorlc/SINJEM/AIMc;,, Pom.
Uonary or metaphoncal, such processes are active, dynamic, and complex,
each Lending toward the increased differemiauon, freedom, and richness of
_a diversely mteracung whole. There is no end, no grand scheme for these
I
agents of change, just a cumulaúve direcuonahty toward funher becommg.
~ ll is in thís produclive and active sense that ecology and creativity speak not
•. : of fl.Xed and rig1d realities but of movement, passage, genesis, and autonomy,
;_of propuls1ve lije unfoldlng in time.
~ It is odd, then, that while ecology and creaúvuy have each received
, i, increasing anemion over the years, there remams amb1guity over their con-
~1
f,'·:.

80 81
82 R ET RO S PE C T E C O LO G Y A N D L A. N o S CA P E .., S A G E N T S O F C R E A T I V I T Y 83

Lem and relationship loward one another, especially with respecl LO their :. ~ tµie invention o~ new forms and programs than Lhe merely correcuve mea-
agency in the evolving of life and consciousness. lL is striking, for example, -.~-· :5ures of restorauon.
\ .·
that thc possibiliLies for a vibrant exchange between ecology, creadvily, and , ~~~· 1f one were Lo conceive of landscape archiLecture as an acuve agent in
the design of landscape have barely been recognized beyond mechamcal and ·~ ~·lhe play of evolutionary lntervention, how would one have to construe eco!-
prescriptive metbods. Moreover, landscape archttecture's appropriauon of -i, . ·-~gy and creativity in design practice? In what ways would lhey have lo be
ecology and creativicy-and the manner in which they are understood and :~· .·.appropriated for landscape archítecrure to funcuon as a significant evolu-
uscd-has rarely led to tbe production of work that is equal in efíect and ~ tionary agent-one chat might develop greater diversiLy and reciprocny
magnitude Lo Lhe Lransformative phenomena these tapies represenL between Lhe cultural world and unmediated Nature? Of whaL would such a
Contemporary landscape architecture 'has drawn more from objecuvist and fcreative ecology consist?
instrumental models oí ecology (the emotional rhetoric of sorne enviran- ~ ::;
mentaliscs notwiLhstanding), while design creativity has ali too frequeotly ·~
been reduced to dimensions of environmental problem solving (know-how) THE
1
ECOLOGICAL IDEA
and aesthetic appearance (scenery). This lack of inventiveness is both sur- ~ :.~cology has assumed a he1ghtened level of significance in social and imellec-
prising and dilTicult for many landscape architects, especially !hose who ; .tpal
affairs dunng the past few decades. Th1s emergence is due, in large pan,
originally entered the field believing that ecology and artistic creauvtty might ~ · .to!an mcreased awareness of local and global environmental decline, a view
togecher help develop new and allernative fonns of landscape. This failing iliat continues lo be shaped through vivid media coverage and well-organized
poinLS to a relacionship between ecology, creaúvity, and landscape that is ,. ~cological activism. 3 The lesson of ecology has been to show how all life upon
eitber lncongruous and impossible to reconcile or (and more likely) lo a the planet is so deeply bound into dynamic, complex, and indetenninate net-
pocenúal relationship thal has not yet been developed-a potential chat '.-works of relauonships lhat lo speak of nature as a linear mechamsm, as if it
mighl inform more meaningful and imaginative cultural practices than the '!ere a great machine that can be e1ther intnnsically or extnnsically conuolled
merely ameliorative, compensatory, aesthetic, or commodity oriemed. ánd repaired, IS s1mply erroneous and reducuve. The ecological view, wilh i_LS
My concern in t.his essay is to ouiline Lhe grouncls chat are necessary for emphasis on Lemporal, interacuve processes, has been further reínforced by
this potenúal to appear. 1 argue that ecology, creaúvity, and landscape archi- · ~~ scienufic [indings oí nonlinearity, complexicy, and chaos dynamtcs. Wh1le
tecture must be considered in terms olher or greater chan those of visual . ,~cology speaks of a "harmony of narure," wriles ecologist Daniel Botkin, it is a
appearance, resource value, habitat scrucrure, or insrrumentalicy. lnstead, 'hannony that is al che same time "discordant, created from the simultaneous
Lhese somewbat restrictive traditional views might be complemented by an f
ovemenLS of many tones, the combination of many processes Oowing at che
understanding of how ecology, creaúvity, and landscape archüecture are • same time along various scales, leading not to a simple melody but to a sym-
metaphorical and ideological representations; they are cultural images, or .,:;fil!ff<I~'- hony at sorne umes harsh and at sorne times pleasing. ""
ideas. Far from being inactive, however, Lhese ideas have profound agency in • ;~,"\\, While the full measure of these and otber emergi.ng v1ews of ecology
the world, effecting change in a variety of material, ideological, and experi- !J{remains LO be realized, the idea oí ecology has diversified Lo such a point that
ential ways. These cultural ideas and practices interact with Lhe nonhuman 1
• it can no longer be used with unambiguous clarity. Toda y, one may observe

world in such a way as sirnultaneously to derive Jrom while being constitu~ '""''~Lhat "ecology" is appropriated as much by corporate and media mdusmes as
tive oJ nature, human dwelling, and the modes of relationship lherein. What ~¡~ 'i· by environmentalists, land-anists, or polit1cians Although ecology has gen-
is imponam and significant here 1s how ecology and landscape architecrural jf , ·'íl;:-
erally been understood as providmg a scienlific account of naLUral processes
design might invent allemative forms of relacionship between people, place, ~f~ and their incerrelationsh1ps, the fact thal lt also both describes and con-
and cosmos. Thus, the landscape architectural project becomes more about :<1 '• : } structs various ideological posiuons to be taken with regard to nature points
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8"1 RET RO SPEC T Ee O LOGy A N D L A N O SC A PE A S A G EN T S O F C REA T I V I T Y 85

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to a greater significance. Ecology is never ideologically (or imaginatively) :f. the valut: of our humanny resLS upon it." 6 lt is thLS dynamic, representalional,
ncuu-al, despite claims of ns objectivily. lL is nol withoul values, ímages, and · ·and "erring" characteristic of culture, then, that de.scriptive and instrurnen-
effecLS. lnstead, ecology is a social consuuction, one that can initiate, infonn, .:: calist ecology fails to recognize, although it is itself a consútuent pan and
f:
and lend legitimacy Lo particular viewpoinLS (from "green politics" lo nation- ~ · ~ producl of the cultural milieu (and is, therefore, jusL as fictional) . In other
alism lo feminism, for example). Ecology construcLS particular "ideas" in Lhe ~. words, many landscape architecLS and planners who are advocates of ecolog-
imagination oí iLS advocates; it conjures up particular ways of seeing and \-ical views often fail to understand how the metaphorical characteristics of
relating lo Nature-views Lhat range from Lhe exttemely rational to the mosl .ecology inform and construct particular realities. Moreover, the sheer diver-
mystical and religious. '\ity pf ways in which different social groups represent, speak of, experience,
ll is, therefore, necessary lo dislinguish two "natures": The first, 'and relate to Nature embodies a richness-a treasure of fictions--chat a
"nature," refers to the conctpt of nature, the cultural construction Lhat ~/strictly scienlistic ecology (iromcally) cannol embrace-nor even acknowl-
enables a people to speak o(and understand the narural world, and that is so ~ ·edge-iLS own 1mage within that richness.
bound imo ecological language; Lhe second, "Nature," refers to the amor-
phous and unmediated ílux that is the "actual" cosmos, Lhat which always
.-<
escapes or exceeds human understanding.
The development of tbe ecological idea of nature in Lhe cultural imagi- ~THE AMBIGUITIES OF ECOLOGY
nacion-how one conceives of, relates to, and intervenes in Nature-is a
."_wtTHIN LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
radically differem kind of reílection chan what is found in currem instru- Ecology has been parucularly iniluenúal in landscapc architecture and plan-
mencalist (or problem solving) approaches toward ecology in landscape •-,µi_ng, especially since the publicalion of Aldo Leopold's A Sand County
architeclUral des1gn and planning, wherein "ecology," "nature," "l:mdscape." T:Almanac (1949), Rachel Carson's Siltnt Spring (1962), and Jan McHarg's
and "environmem" form the prtmary foci of auention, considercd as scparate .;.Dtslgn with Nacurt (1969). Earher American naturalists such as G_eorge
from and extemal to culture. By "culture," I refer lo more than just che Perkins Marsh, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir,
behavioral and sLatistical characteristics of a human group (somelhing that and, later, Lawrence Henderson had no doubt partly infiuenced sorne late-
human ecology cla1ms to describe), and to invoke, instead, the irnage of an :nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century landscape architects-mosl notably
unfolding and multivariate artifact, a dynamic entity constructed from the · Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles Eliot, Jens Jensen, and Warren Manning.
vocabularies, altitudes, customs, beliefs, social forms, and material charac- • /The cumulative result over che past cemury, but especially sirlce the original
teristics of a particular society. Culture is a thick and active archaeology, akin '.- . -~~ Earth Day, has been the establishment of ecology as a central pan of land-
to a deep field that is capable of furcher moral, intellectual, and social culti- ·,\ · ·,.~Jf
•'.'\...
scape architectural educaúon and practice.
vation. Thus, people can only ever hnow what they have made (their lan- : ~ :; Whereas ecology has changed and enriched the field oí landscape archi-
guage, representations, and artifacts). "Because for thousands of years we :· ·J~ tecture substanually, 1t has also displaced sorne of landscape architecture's
have been looking at the world wnh moral, aestheuc, and religious clairns," ·~ ·, •.~Y..· more tradiuonal aspects and prompted a somewhat amb1guous and
writes Nieczsche, "wich blirid mclinauon, passion, ar fear, and have indulged · ~~' escranged disciplinary idenuty (the oft-asked question: "Is it are ar sci-
ourselves in che bad habits of illogical thought, this world has gradually ~1 rifi ence?"). A number of schools of landscape archnecture, for example, now
becomt so strangely colorful, frighúul, profound, souUul; it has acquired teach httle visual art, design theory, or history, focusing instead u pon natural
color bul we have been Lhe paimers: Lhe human imellect allowed appearance science, env1ronmental management, and techniques of ecolog1cal restora-
to appear, and projected its mistaken conceptions onto chings. "5 Far tion. Allhough these as pecLS of landscape srudy are importam, one cannot
Nietzsche, the cultural world (like nature) is the result of an accumulation help but feel a concem for the loss of foundational rracüúons, cspecially
of ~rrors and fantas1es," an accrual that is nothing less than ka treasure: for landscape arch1tecture's agency as a representational and productive art, as a
86 RE T RO SP E C T EC O LO G Y AN O L A N O SC A P E AS A GEN TS O F C RE A T I V l T Y 87

~
cultmal project. The subsequem polarization of an from science, planning L through cultivation (of food, body, spitit, and physical and psychological rela-
from design, theory from practice, and the lack of critical reílection within 1'. uonship) literally unites and distinguishes human life and Nacure. The persis-
··ecological design" circlcs are funher symptoms of chis forgecfulness. While tenl archetype of che garden ponends an ecological consciousness that is
the councertendency to pnvilege design and form at the exclusion of ecolog- ~ simultaneously useful and symbolic, one that is rooted not in an extemal
ical ideas has proven to be retrogressive and productive of environments ~ world of nature but within a particular culrure's mode of rela.ttng to Nacure.
more like encenainmem landscapes than s1gnificanc places for dwelling, the ·.! The same power of relationship is encoded noc only in the construction of
approptiation oí ecology wit.hin Jandscape archilecture has yet to precipnate .physical places, but also in maps, images, and other place-forming texts.
inventive and animistic forms of creativity. This failure is evidenced most The difficulty for many landscape architects today líes in a forgetfulness
embarrassingly in the prosaic and often trivial nature of much contemporary ·· :. of (and perhaps, too, a skepticism toward) the power that syrnbolic repre-
built work, whether it claims to be "ecological" in its design or not. ..sentation can have in forging cultural relationships, both berween one
Moreover, it is ironic that the lively and spomaneous morphogenesis ·another and becween one and Nature. This loss of tradicional focus is com-
characteristics of evolurionary creation-the active life processes of which ~ pounded, in pan, by che privileging of a scientiscic ecology (utilized in
ecology speaks-are rarely paralleled in the modem landscape architect's lim- '' highly rationalized descriplive and prescriptive ways) over phenomenologi-
ited capacity to transfigure and rransmute.7 This lack of imaginative depth and " '..:cal fonns of ecological consciousness (which are all too often mongly belit-
actual agency is compounded by often uncritical, reductive, and sornetimes . tled by scientistic ecologists as having naive or Lrivial goals wilh respecc LO
even exclusionary views of what is considered to be "natural." For example, '· the massive rechnoeconomic scale of the ecological "crisis"). The popular
che popular concepcion of ecological design as reconscrucúng "native" envi- ·'notion chal subjectivity, poetry, and art are welcome in the privare domains
ronmems is not only founded upon illusory and comradictory ideas about a "'oc the gallery or the library but are no match for Lhe power of "racional"
noncuhural "nacure," but also displays a remarkably nonecological intolerance insoumentality in "solving" the real problems of Lhe world is to understand
of altemative viewpoims and processes of transmutation (terms such as Joreign · these problerns in terms that are somehow extcmal to the world of symbolic
and exocic berray an exclusivity and ptivileging of the natives). .'. communication and cultural values.9 Th.is use of ecology as a rauonal instru-
Given the increased marginalization of comemporary landscape archnec- -~ ment in landscape architecrural design and planning not only extemalizes
ture, it would seem promising for landscape architects to look to ecology less ': the "problem," but also prometes human domination over che non human
for techniques oí description and prescription (and even less for its apparent . world-a world that is either rendered mute and inen or deified as a ptivi-
legitimizing oí images oí "naruralness") and more for its ideational, represen- )eged domain over culture. This continua! emph.asis upon racional
tational, and material implications with respect Lo cultural process and evolu- :. prowess-ofcen al the exclusion oí phenomenological wondermenc, doubt,
tionary transformation. After all, as social ecologist John Clark argues, "The ~ and humility-also fails to recognize the very minor degree to which the
ílowering of the human spirit and personality is a continuation of narural evo- .· combined landscape archilectural constructions around the world have
lution. Liberation of che human imagination from the deadening effects of j- affected the global environmem, especially when compared to the scale of
mechanization and commodilkation is one of the most pressing ecological !~ industTialization, deforestation, and toxic waste. ln conrrast, the impact that
issues."8 lt is ironic that the emancipation of human creativicy through Lhe gardens, parks, and public spaces (and also maps, images, and words) have
imaginaúve appropriaúon of ecological ideas and metaphors has been largely had on the fonnation of cultural and existemial values has historically
neglected by comemporary landscape architects (and especially those who proven to be immeasurable. Landscape architecture's focus of concem sim-
wave Lhe flag of ecology), even though the deeper tradiáons of landscape archi· ply can never be that oí the externa! environment alone but musl always
tecture are founded upan such existential objectives. The garden, for example, entail profoundly cultural interests and ideas.
was lustorically developed as a place of both connectivity and differentiation Clearly, the point remains that, although ecology has surfaced in mod-
between people and the world of Narure. Here, the exchange that occurs em landscape architectural discourse (as in public life in general) , a cultur-
88 RETROSPECT Ee o Lo GY ANo LA N oSe A P E t\ s AG ENT~ o F e R EAT l vlTY 89

ally animare ecology-one thac is disLinct from a purely "scienlistic" ecol- to a furure in which people might live in their own self-manufactured envi-
ogy-has yet to emerge. That such an urgent development might derive ronments, in which che threats (and marvels) of nacure are not allowed 10
from, and contribute to, more animistic types of creativity than current '... intrude (or appear)- except, of course and inevitably, by accidem.
frames of instrumentalism would allow poinLS to a necessary dialogue ·~¡ Clearly, it is fair 10 observe that advances m technology and producuv-
becween the sc1entific and artistic worlds. Such an emphasis asks that ecol- ~~; ity have not led to an equivalent growth in e1cher moral or ecological con-
ogy infonn and embrace those poetic activiues that create meaningful rela- ~...;; sciousness. 10 A corresponding decline of the sacred and the spintual has
tionships between people, place, and eanh. An eco-imaginative ; only compounded the deterioralion of ethical measures m society, espec1ally
landscape/architccrure would be creative insofar as it reveals, liberares, .-~ in terrns of es1ablishing che limits for technological invennveness. ThlS
( .
enriches, and diversifies both biological and cultural life. How, then, might • decachment of cultural value from 1he au1onomous, free-wheeling develop-
che ecological idea precipitate imaginative and "world-enlarging" forros of . ment of a limitless 1echnology is exacerbated by the rise of global, markec-
creative endeavor? ln turn, how might landscape architeccural crealiviry .: based econornies, which are governed solely by the capitalist maxims of
(inforrned through itS represencational traditions) enrich and inforrn the cco- :; profit and gain, of1en at the expertSe of other people, naúons, or life-forms.
logical idea in thc imagination and material pracuces of a people? In rurn, the rise of a hierarchical and bureaucralic sociery-with dommam
" groups limiúng che freedoms of 01hers-has led to radical inequalities, cul-
': cural escrangements, and gross reductions in both the cultural and natural
MODERNITY ANO ENVIRONMENT ~·.,; spheres. The subsequem loss of alterity and difference ponends an increas-
Prior to any funher discussion of the above themes, ít might be helpful to (.ingly homogeneous and impoverished life-world-one that might have the
oucline sorne of che central characceristics of modernity (the Western cul- ? busy appearance of pluralism, bue only as media irnage and rarely as a co-
tural paradigm that stcms from dcvelopment during thc late sixteenth . /presence of radically "other" realitics. In surn, the belid in human progress
century). To discuss the significancc of ecology and creativiry outside this !. and mastery over Nature, for all of its good imemions and successes. has a1
context is to overlook their relationship within a larger cultural sphere. Of the same Lime promoted an often bruta Uy mechanistic, materialislic, and
particular imponancc is an appreciation for how an all-pervasive belief in 7impersonal world, a dornain in which the potencial creativity of both Nature
human "progrcss" undcrlies much of what is troublesome in our current age. and culture is dimmished to dull equauons of utiliry, production, commod-
The widespread faith in the capacity of cechnology to make a more per- .. iry, and consumption.
!.
fect world in the future first arose during the sixteenth and sevenceenth .~-,, The fallacies of progress1V1St and objectivisl practices are sus1ained in
cenruries, when new advances in science (from Copernicus, Galileo, and large measure by another primary characteristic of che modern paradigm:
Descartes, to Newton and Bacon) and che rise of capitalist market economies The tendency to construct binary opposítions, as in the polarizauon of the
inspired many Enlightenmem intellecruals to assume that people could mas- human and social world frorn the natural world. 11 This dualism parallels the
ter nature. With progress1ve opnmtSm, it was believed that ali disease and dichotomy between subject and object, wherem concepts such as "env1ron-
poverty could be eradicated while matenal standards of living could be ment" are conceived as chings that are externa! to humankmd. The sevenng
improved. The many succcsses of modern sciencc during the pase chrce hun- of reality inco opposites is again an outcome of Enhghtenrnent (panicularly
dred years (especially in medicine and communicatiortS) have cominued to Cartesian) thínking, in which the objective and subJective worlds were
foster the expectation that funher advances in cechnology w11l continue to absolutely distinguished and separated, and the incommensurabil1ty
solve ali of humankind's problems. Thac this same science has also led to the between the anists' "sensib1lity" and the sciencists' "rationality" firsc arose.
development of "darker" technologies, such as nuclear weaponry and the The tension w1thin concemporary landscape archnecture between the ratio-
production of toxic waste, has proven to be increasingly troubling. Similarly, nal, analytical, and obJective "planners" (who put such great emphasis upon
more apparently benign experimenLS such as BiospJ1ue Il, in Arizona, point a linear process of data accumulation, logtcal determinism, and large-scale
90 RE T RO SP EC T ECOLOGY ANO LANDS C APE AS A G ENTS OF CREATIVITY 91

engineering) and lhe emoúon~l. inruitive, myslical "artists" (who put such ria for evaluating lhc "ht" bccween proposed land uses and environmencal
great emphasis on subjectivity, emotive experience, and aeschelic appear- systems. The most popular lechnique for such evaluation of \and tS called
ance) is bue one fallacious outcome oí lhis larger, dualistic paradigm. 12 suitab1hty analyslS, developed by McHarg ac lhe Universiry of Pennsylvania
Although 1t may be characcerized as a "gentlc" profession, lanclscapc dunng the 1960s. This ecological melhod allows far the quanufication oí lhe
architecture remains caught wilhin the technoeconom1c, progrcssivist, and various parts thal make upa particular ecosystem (or at least those pans lhal
dualisuc characcenstics of modemity. While modem landscape architecture's are susceptible to being quantified and mapped); measures the impacl for
conrribution to resource managemem, scenic preservation, zoological and various scenanos of development; and recommends the most appropnace,
cornmercial theme-park design, and corporace image building has cenatnly ;'4t :·~ ·~¡. least disruptive land use. D The result is a systematic and ralional accounting
lessened che damage done to the environment, its lendency lo conceivc and 1. ·t-J. framework-a resource value matrix-for planning and managmg develop-
present che lanclscape as an obJect-whecher aesthetically, ecologically, or -~ ~'i
..,"' ~ :..- ment (" growth") .
1nstrumencally-has, at the same Lime, led to funher devaluarion of lhe envi- \.
) ..
I
¡,.¡. •
In his book Nacure~ Economy, Donald Worster recognizes that scienufic
ronmem in cultural lerms (the lanclscape now quahfied as resource, as com- ~ t'
ecology is used by the conservationistlplanner solely to enable :i ''more care-
modity, as compensation, oras system). If landscape architecture is lo concem ful management of . .. resources, to preserve the biotic capital while maxi-
itself wich che "ecologkal crisis" and otber difficulties of human lile u pon the mizing the income."li ln criúcizing thlS view, environmentallSt author Ne1l
eanh, then it must recogmze expeditiously how the root cause of environ- 1J~~ Evemden argues lhat the use of ecology in resourcist planning is simply the
mental (and spiritual) decline IS buried in the complex foundations of mod- ~ means by which people may achieve "the maximum uahzanon of the earth
em culture, particularly its political-econornic practices, its social instirutions, . as raw material in lhe support of one species ... leven though) enviran-
and lhe psychology and imolerance of much of its citizenry. - : mentalism has typtcally been a revolt against the presumption that chis is
~ · indeed a suitable goal." 15 For all its good intentions, a maJor consequence of
l the resourcist proJect IS the mevnable reduclion of other life-íorms and
CONSERYATION IST/RESOURCIST · '.i processes of Nature's creauon to obJectified factors of uulity-a devaluauon
ANO RESTORATIYE ECOLOGY ~:,_ thac is afeen cornpounded by (and, also, consucutive oO an emotional
From within chis modern cultural paradigm, two dominam streams of eco- · ' detachment, or distance, between people and the earth. "In reducing lhe üv-
logical pracúces of landscape architecture have emerged: One conservaeion- . ,_. r./
ing world to lngredients that could be eas1ly measured and graphed,"
ist/resourcisl, which espouscs the vicw that further ecological informauon {) · ;:. observes Worster, "the ecologist was also in danger of rcmoving ali the resid-
and knowledge will enable progressive kinds of management and control of : ,: ual emoóonal impediments to unrestrained development." 16 "To describe a
ecosystems; and the other restorative, which espouses the view that ecologi- ' i tree asan oxygen-producing device or bogas a filtering agent is [a violence)

cal knowledge may be used to "heal" and reconscruct "natural systcrns." that is debasing to bemg ilself," 17 writes Evemden. Both Worster and
ln the conservationist/resourcist view of ecology, lhe landscape is com- Evernden conclude that resourcist views of ecology effectively neutralize the
posed of various resources chat have particular value to people-such as wonders of creation; that che objectivist, inscrumencal manner of manipulat-
forestry production, mining, agriculture, built development, recreauon, and ing the world leads only to the domesacation of al\ that is genuinely wtld,
tourism. Scenery, too, is considered a resource, as are "heritage areas" and self-determining, nnd free. "In combating exploitation, [resourcist) environ-
tracts of "wilderness," which are valued as a resource far "future human gen- mentalists have [merely] tutored the developer in lhe art of careful exploita-
erations." Through che quamification of economic, ecological, and social val- tion," Evemden notes.1 8 Through such practices, ecology simply promotes
ues, smnegies of landscape conservaaon are developed as "balances" an analyuc and detached instrumentality, one thal facililales an apparently
between human needs and natural life. Ecological concepts prov1de the land- "harmless" human control over an objectified and inen natural ~reserve " ln
use manager and planner with racional (and apparently value-neutral) crite- other words, progressivisc ecology merely condiuons a parucular way of see-
92 R ET RO S PE C T Ee o LoGY A N o LA N oSeA PE A S A G EN T s O F e R E ,\ T t V l T Y 93

..
ing that effectively severs the subject from the objecl. lL is this culrurally per- :· nature" are themselves cultural images). Modero dualism and hierarchy (th1s
petuated relationship to landscape, this continua! objecnfication, that pro- time, Nature over culture) are not overcome in the ecocentric model, but
hiblLS a more empai.hetic reciprocity between people and the world. While ·: simply reinforced. lt is a model (oran "ethic") that is seriously ílawed in its
Everoden's remarks may upset professional land-planners whose practices ~ h ~tf4 often mystical, antirational, and romantic views of nature-views that priv1-
are founded upon objective, amelioranve, and "raúonal" means, he points .f. ~ \. lege ideas o[ harmony, mucualiry, interconneccedness, and stability, while
directly to the root source of conunued environmental decline: Tlu will co i/. ;~:overlooking equally natural phenomena such as compeution, exclusion,
manage and control somechmg tltat is •out chere, • not within. ~ 1 · _ exploitation, disease, and species exrinction.
The second approach toward ecology in landscape architecture is the ~ ln boch conservacionist/resourcisc and restorative/ecocentnc practices,
rescorative. Here, the emphasis is on the acquisition of Lechnical knowledge .;í ecology remains entrenched wii.hin the same modero paradigm that many
and skül with respect to the physical reconstruction of landscapes or, at a argue is the struccural cause of environmental and social declme. Whereas
larger scale, regional ecosystems. The belief is that che refinement of more ~one pos1tion utilizes ecology to facilitate funher control over the human
ecologically sensitive techniques of land development will minimize damage environment, the other uses it to provide rhetorical force to emocional feel-
to local and regional habitaLS. Ecology is employed by the restorationist LO ;~ings about the primacy oí Nacure and the errors oí ani.hropocentncity. In
provide a scientific account of natural cycles and flows of energy, thereby ~. both cases, only the sympcoms of ecological distress are dealt wich, wh1le
explaining the network of interdependencies that comprise a particular •causal cultural foundations-the social strucrures that underlie dualisrn,
ecosystem. Furthermore, ecology provides the restoratiomst with a palette of . alienacion, domination, and estrangement-are ignored and unchanged, if
native and successional planL rnaterials and planting pauerns, allowing íor not acrually upheld. In their dualistic objectifymg of the world, both ecolog-
the re-creation of a precultural, "naruralistic" landscape aesthetic. There is ical resourcism and restoration are ameliorative at best, and facilitating of
little room Cor cultural, social, and programmatic innovation in restorative exploitation and exclusionism at worst. Unwittingly, landscape architecture,
work; the primary focus of attention is the natural world and che technique.s 'like the multifaceted environmenLal movement generally, merely replicates
necessary to recreate iL (token gestures toward local heritage nocw1thstand- and sustains che shortcomings of modem1ty. Whether the locus of environ-
ing). Of course, as restoration is essenúally an ideological project-derived mental concern be nature or culture, Lhe problem is the belief in a control-
from ·a panicular cultural idea of "narure"-it can never escape iLS inherent ling instrumentality and a failure to recognize bioecological constructions as
cultural status. Unfortunately, restorationistS are often as uncritical of thl.5 ~~cultural "errors and fantas1es"-as rreasured fictions that have profound
inescapable metaphoricity as they are unaware of the ease with which ¡-_agency in the unfolding of hfe-worlds.
romantic ideals of "nativeness" can degenerate into exclusionary and
"purist" nationalisúc actitudes (as most exuemely evidenced in fascist
Germany in the 1930s and 1940s). 19 ~ RADICAL ECOLOGY
So despising of modem cultural life are sorne restorationists that a rad- f. In response to Lhe apparent failing of conventional frames of ecology and ·
ically ecocentric ideology has emerged in one extreme wing of the environ- ·;, environmentalism, other, more radical ecological positions have emerged in
rnentalist circle. Although Lhe ecocentnc impulse is rarely as fierce in land- ~- recent years.20 They are radical because their work focuses not on Nature but
scape architecmre as ll can be in sorne environmental groups, there remains -~. on the sphere of culture. They are also critica! of progre.ssivist ecology and
a strong sentiment that urbanity, art, and cultural life in general are grossly \ · its largely technocratic "soluúons" to environmental "problems," believing
inferior to the life of unmediated Narure, a Nature that finds iLS finest, most them to be piecemeal approaches lQward the maniíestations-rather !.han the
creative expression in evolutionary hístory and wtldemess areas (blind foundational social causes-oí ecological distress. Philosophical critiques of
though Lhese groups often are to the íact that such views oí "umouched anthropocentrism, biocentrism, rationalism, objectivism, patriarchism, dual-
9-'t RE T RO SP ECT EC O LO ~ Y A N O L A N O SC A P E AS AG EN T S O F C R E .\ T 1 \' 1 T Y 95

~
)i;í\~
~.....i:
ism, hierarchy, moral rights, and ethics form the ground of the debate, with .~ ' nation." 23 Moreover, social ecologists see their projecl as having an evolution-
groups such as lhe "deep ecologists," the "ecofeminists," and the "social ecol- ·..:J ary and moral imperaave. They believe that humanity has developed evolu-
ogists" ac odds wilh one another over founclational principies. That these , " óonarily as Mnature rendered self-consc1ous," as nature reílecting upon itself. lt
debates have occurred infrequently in landscape architectural discourse is ·;-. . is, therefore, an ecological and moral responsibílity far human creaúvity to, as
profoundly unfonunate, as it will only be through a more sophisticated ~:¿.' . ' Coleridge so beautifully wrote, "body fonh the form of things unknown'';H to
unde.rst:1nding of ecology-one that transcends its status as a descriptive and [" .• ·promete a diversity of evolutionary pathways; and to foster an aesthectc appre-
analytical natural science and recognizes its metaphoricity as a cultural con- - ·~ ciation and sense of responsibilicy toward the íecundity of Natural and cultural
scruction-that ecology's significance Cor a more crearive and meaningful ~volution. "Evolution" here refers to a propulsive íecundity that is life 1tself,
landscape architecture rnight be realized. · predicated upon spontaneity. chance, self-determinacion, and a directionality
Oí the various radical ecologies, the one that appears lo be of particu- ' toward the "actualization of potencial. "25 Far social ecologists, people muse
' ('
21
lar interese for landscape architecture is social ecology. This approach tar- ;:,_ function as "moral agents," creatively intervening in the unfalding of evolution
gets the technoeconomic aspects of the modero cultural paradigm and is '' and the increasing of diversity, freedom, and self-reílexivity.26
especially critica! of social practices of domination, commodification, and The irony oí this moral imperative is hauncingly rational, for, as Erazim
instrumentality. In the development oí a "new liberatory project," social : Kohak writes: "lf there is no God, then everything is nota creation, lovingly
ecologists believe thac the greacest potential for cultural reformation lies t
created and endowed with purpose and value by its creator. lt can only be a
within the power of human imagination and creativity, although they insist { cosmic accidem, dead mauer propelled by blind force, ordered by efficient
as well on the parallel development of alternative social struccures (political, ~ causalicy. In such a context, a moral subject, living his life in terms of v.1lue
institucional, ideological, ethical, and habitual) to those that sustain the ··aod purpose, would indeed be an anomaly." 27 Kohak shows how c1vilization
modero paradigm. 22
, . is simultaneously of Nature and yec radically different from il. lt is wuhin the
While social ecology sedes an "ethics of complementarlty"-structured ··space of this anomalous dialectic that further discussion of ecology and cre-
through a nonhierarchical politics of freedom, murualism, and self-determi- .-·.•~·ativity as active agents in the unfolding of evolutionary time muse he, and
nation-its advocates are simultaneously aware oí the difficulties of trying to ~t from within which more criucal and active praclices oí landscape arch1t'ec-
promotc changc in cultural life wichout resorúng to enforcement or dualism. ·., ture may emerge.
lnstead, sorne social ecologists believe that political, economic, and institu-
cional change may bese be effected less through instrumental means than
through the reinvigoration of the cultural imagination. They call Cor a new ..
kind of social "vision," a "new animism" in which human societies would see
·, DIALECTICAL ECOLOGY AND LANGUAGE
'-0..'.'I:.
the world with new eyes-with wondermem, respect, and reverence. ln ~ ~- ~; Human beings, by vtrtue of their ab1hcy co construct a reality through verbal
social ecology, the ecological idea transcends its slrictly scientific characcer- ., and visual language, are radically differem from the w1ld and indifferem ílux
istics and assumes social, psychological, poetic, and imaginative dimensions. that is nature, and different cultures at d1fferem limes have, of course, relaced
lo shying away from solitary or mysucal subjectivity, however, social to the same "reality" in sigmficantly dissimtlar ways. Cullural "worlds" are
ecology sedes to consrruct a dialectical synthesis between rational thought, composed oí linguistic and imagistic strucmres; they are as much ficnonal as
spontaneous imagination, and spiritual developmem-a dialogue that social they are factual, as much symbolic as they are useful. As NieLZSche recog-
ecologisc Clark describes as "a more profaund inquiry into the nacure of our nized: "To a world thac is 1101 our idea, the laws of numbers [and conceptsl
embodiedness--as thinking, feeling humans, and as thinking, íeeling eanh. are completely inapplicable; they are valid in the human world." 28 The only
[Social ecology) directs us in the dialectic ofbeing in its many dimcnsions. To nature that is real far us is constituted through the field of language. Without
the erotics of reason. To the logic of the passions. To the politics of the imagi- language there would be no place, only primal habitat; no dwelling, only
.. t :... ·. ·. .'...:(

96 RET RO SPECT E C O L O G Y A N D L A N D S C A P E ·" S A G E N T S O F C R E A T I V I T Y 97

. .'\, .
~
subsistence. Moreover, nol only does language ground and orient a culture, . become increasmgly apparent. "33 Evidenlly, che locus of such an enterpnse
but il also facilitates moral reílection upon human existence and the exis- is the liminal space between signiíier and signified, mind and mauer, intel-
tence of others. lecl and body.
The capacily of the human mind co comprehend and reílect upon thc People are caught, then, ín this place between recognizing themselves
comprehensibility of the cosmos was "the most significant fact" of any for ···as pan of Nature and being separa te ÍTom it. This do u ble sense arises through
Aristoue, and this correspondence underlay the Greek fonnulacion of the ' the acknowledging of "othemess," or lhe copresence of what is not of cul-
word logos. which referred to the "natural" symmetry of mínd and Nature ture and what will always exceed cultural definition. This is the wild in its
and to the forging of that relation through language. 29 Of course, the word mosl autonomous and unrnediated form. As a radical "other," the wild is
0

ecology carries wilh it the union of 01hos with logos, which allows il to be f unrepresentable, unnameable; and although iL can never be capcured as a
loosely translated as the "relations of home." 1n tracing this etymology, .presence, it is al the same time noc exacuy noching. The poet Wallace Stevens
Roben Pogue Harrison writes: "The word ecology names far more chan the ,'. perhaps bese captures this sense In the last íew lines oí "The Snow Man" :
science that studies ecosystems; it names the universal manner of being in ·"
the world .... We dwell not in nan,re bue in the relation to nanire. We do not For che listrner who liscens in the snow,
And, nothing himself. beholds
º
inhabit che earth but inhabit the excess of the earth"3 (emphasis added). This
Nochmg that Is not thm: and the nothing that is.34
relation-or oetwork of relaúons-is something that people make; il is ao
('
excess (of which laodscape architecture is a pan) within which a culture . _The nonabsent absence of che "other" escapes being seen or said, and yet it
dwells. As such, human dwelling is always an estranged conscrucúon, one ~: remains the original source of ali saymg, the first inspiration. Ali people have
that can be as descructive and parasitic as iL can be reciproca! and symbiotic. Ukely experienced this at one lime or another, especially as young children
This view is echoed by Charles Bergman's claim: "Extinction .. . may always . scaring wilh wonder at the world, or, perhaps, during times of hallucinalion
have been with us, but endangered species are a modem invention, a '. or of reügious and holy encouncer.35 Such "happenings," in tum, precipita te
uniquely modem contribution to science and culture. Tbey are one of the ;: wonder, reílection, language, and ideas, enabling realily to "appear" (par-
unhappy consequences of the way we have come to know animals, the dark :. tially) and be shared among members of a communily. With time, the S}-lr-
side of our relation with nature. "31 Consequencly, "even though it is the rounding of this (partial) realicy with words and concepts attnbutes an
demise of earthly forests tbat elicit our concem," writes Evemden, "we must ¡ ,,,.: everyday status to things, a familiaricy.

bear in mind that as culcure-dwellers we do not so much live in forests of ~· The difficulcy arises when the wonderful original disappears behind an
crees as much as in forests of words. And the source of the blight that aill.icts ~>" excessively habitual, meaningless language-one in which the signifier has
the earth's fo rests must be sought in the word forests-that is, in the world ·~;f't.-thickened to a "crust," denying che fullness oí what is signified to present
we articulate, and which confirms us as agenrs of that eanhly malaise."32 ~ 11·;:.,f~W. itself fully a~ o~er. ~uch paralysis occu1:> when the habics and conventicos
The realization that nacure and culture are conscructions, woven : ~ ( oí cultural s1gmficaaon become so prosa1c, so hardened, so total as absoluce
together as a network of relationships, has led sorne to argue thac any devel- "'ffe . 'i presence, that one can simply no longer see the self-contained mystery and
\!; '
opmenc of social behavior belongs to a critica! revitalization of the powers of 'r 'ñ.'~~ potential of bemgs and things in lhemselves. Banished, also, is the unruly
signification-to the poetics of world making and transfiguralion Clark, for ~ ~;t wildness and freedom of the nonhuman other-of whac is, in fact, the very
example, wntes of the need lo "delve more deeply inco those inseparable ~ ;..:g;; source of evoluúonary life and human creativity. One need only consider
dimensions oí body and mind that dualism has so fatefully divided. As we ~ :~. how the engineering of the gene-that lasl bastion of nonhuman, indeter-
explore such realilies as thoughc., idea, image, sign, symbol, signifier and lan- f. f.¿~ minate, and wild freedom-is clase to being fully mapped, colomzed, and
guage on the one hand, and feeling, emotion, disposition, instinct, passion, l m manipulated. Our modem-day "wilderness areas" are no refuge either, as
and desire on the other, the interconneclion between the lWO realrns will ,¡., · ~ they, too, have been chaned, mapped, phocographed, painted, managed, and
'•'il
"'~-t:
~ ...-..,.~
:t '
~ --1..
,-.1 -~ '.f
98 RET RO S P EC T EC O L O G Y A N O L A N OSCA P E A S A G E N T S O F C REA T I V I T Y 99

"set aside" as a cultural resource. All of crealion is apparently becoming lcss "have presence for, people, thereby contmually challenging human concepts
wild and more domesticated, possessed, inert, and drained of all that ' ·: and ways of knowing. As Merleau-Ponty outlines: "le is essential for the
prompts wondermenc and reílecuon. Habitual modes of knowing and speak- ·{·thing and the world to present themselves as 'open,' to project us beyond
ing, when hardened and blinkered, simply exclude the otherness that is r their predetermined manifestations and constantly to promise us 01hcr
interna! to things, denying them the possibility of becoming, of further \hings to see. "38 This view may entail as much terror and fear as ll does har-
emerging and fulfilling rheir potencial. The comemporary denial of others is mony and mutuality (which, of course, was the idea oí the Sublime m land-
of consequence for both biological evolution as well as for the developmcm scape and art during the eightcench century, and which underlay Otto's ideas
of human consciousness and moral reílectivity. 36 ·ór the Holy in the twentieth century). Current attempts to control Nature, to
In evolutionary terms, the calcification of life occurs when transmu- leave it alone, or to conflate it with culture fail to recognize che inevitable
taúon slows or ceases, when life stops. ln ünguistic and cultural terms, this . "anomalous dialecúc of human existence.
arrophy translaces to che deadening of poetic metaphor, to the failure to ' ": The emancipalion of both na cure and che human imagination depends,
recognize that metaphor and image are not secondary representations of a ilierefore, first on the capacity to "unsay" the world and, second, on the abil-
deeper, extemal truth, but are consútunve oí a cullural reality and ever .,.ity to image it chfferently so that wonder m1ght be brought into appearance.
capable oí invenúng truth. This atrophy of the imagination has arisen in This transformation and enrichment of meaning belongs to the poetic-to
large pan because of the predominance of empiric1St and objective logic, 'üie capacity of the visionary to change vocabularies and break convention so
1
inherited from the promotion of rationality during the Enlightenment. that hidden potentials are made actual. Asjocl Kovel recognizes: "We cannoL
Here, one simply cannot sce beyond "X is equal to what is." Crea tive devel- tcollapse the human and Natural worlds one into che other, exceptas a wish-
opment in both Natural evolution and the human imaginauon, however, )~1 illusion. We have only the choice as to how Nature is to be sigmfied: As
entails the realization of potential-the bringing forth of latent and previ- _an inen other, oras [the poet William] Blake fully expressed, an entity rrans-
ously unknown events and meanings. In the creative process of becoming, pgured with spirit. nJ9 Culture evolves through metaphor and the release·of
"X is equal to what is and what is not (yet). n The revitalization of wonder- more edifying relauonships between things. Poelic transfiguralion enables
menc and poelic value in human relacions with Nature is, therefore, <lepen- "' .an unfolding of things previously unforeseen, raising people Lo a perception
dent on the ability to strip away the crust of habiL and convencion that pro- f' of the wonderful and the infinite. The aim is one of ever-increasmg whole-
hibits fresh sight and relacionship. One must get behind the veneer of lan- , :'· ness richness and fullness of differenliation and subjectivity.
guage in arder to discover aspects of the unknown within what is already f • The irle~ that the poetic language. of images and like.nesses can
familiar. Such tr:insfiguraúon is a process of finding and then founding .•:· expand-both irnaginatively and literally-the incemal strucLures of the
altemative worlds. 1 can think of no greater raison d'ftre for the landscape \ world underlies che writings of the chemist-turned-poec Gaston Bachelard,
archicectural project. t~r, who believed thac poetic image could be "a synchesizing force for human
In describing che capacity of human thought, George Steiner wrices that -rt,f exiscence.""º In warning agaínst the studying of matter asan object (as in the
"ours is thc abiliLy, the need, to gainsay or 'unsay' Lhe world, to image it and ' :i, scientific experiment), Bachelard insisted instead on the development of a
speak it otherwise. nJ7 Through the disappearance of the distincL and separa te ;. deeply sensual knowledge of che world, derived from how one lives or expe-
fono of things there is enabled the appearance of a radically new form of .. · tienccs it. He spoke, also, of Lhe "reverberancy" with which poecic images
experience and knowing. One musL firsL shed the convencional view that lan- ~~ resonate with human feeli.ngs and imaginacion, describing thetr constituuve
guage merely describes an externa!, detached reahty, and realize instead that · power in forging renewed relations between things. Through his description
both che signified field and che things signified are combined inextricably in of "poelic reverie," Bachelard's work shows how Lhe joining of substances
mutually constitulive processes of ever-becoming. Nature asan autonomous, With adjectives can derive from mauer a spmt-a truth. Hence, one m1ght
free, irreducible, and ammate "ocher~ must be enabled Lo engage with, and speak of "humid fire," "m1lky wa1er/ or "night as nocturnal maner."
100 R E T RO S P E C T ECO LO G Y A N O LA N O S CAP E A S A G EN T S O F C R E A T I V I T Y 101

BEWILDERMENT. WONDER, ANO INDETERMINATION 1,- .- -- • - ...., _.., _ _ _ _


W-FU--rT,-,• .....:,,r - _..-_..1,
'.
These ideas about lmagmauve renewal t.hrough íresh and resonant asso- ~ -- - -..

ciation were particularly well undemood by the Surrealists. Artists such as
Breton, Miró, Magrine, Tanguy, and Emst sought to fmd correspondences
becween Natural life and human life through the workings of the psyche and
the imagmation.'H In Max Ernsl's work, sun, sky, universe, eanh, vegetable,
animal, serpent, mineral, and human are woven together in ways that are
both familiar and radically new. They are uncanny in that their oddness, their
strange and bewildering quahty, prompts both wonder and imagmative
recognition-they evoke relationsh1p. The CanCS1an dualities of people and
Nature, mauer and thought, subJect and object, male and female are con-
ílated into fantastic worlds of muruahty, paradox, and difference. In descnb-
ing cenain poetic procedures such as "overpainting," ufronage," and ulop-
lop," Ernst insisted u pon the "bewuchmg" of reason, Laste, and objecovily.
ln fact, one of the key procedures m Surrealist cransformation was uthe
exploiration of the fonuitous meeting of two distant realiues on an inappro-
priate plane . .. or, to use a shoner terrn, the cultivar ion of a systematic bewil-
dering "il
Bewilderrnent is simply a prerequisite for another forrn of seeing; it is
an unsetded appearance that allows for the double presence of human and
other. That the poet or the amst are the scers and makers of such works
derives from the tradilions of mimesis and poesis, acuvities that entail thc
acrualization of potential, the bringmg fonh of somethmg previously
unknown, or even nonexisrenL The development of techniques of collage
and montage simply represents the deep (natural?) human desire co realize MC2K ErnSL Speech oí the Blrd Woman. / 920.
ncw and latcnt visions--new connections and possibilities for relationship Callare and rouoche, 7 !4 X 4 !4 In.
f. W Comfeld CollectJon, 8em. C/995 Arusu Rirhts
becween things."3 Funhermore, the parallels becwccn thc vocabularies of
Sooety (ARS), NewYorkJS,MJEM/ADIO, Pans.
ccology and collage are strtking-cerms such as indetenninacy, mclusivity,
overlay. rupcure, simultaneity, srochastic event, inscability, assodation, collusion,
and other morphological processes speak of an ever-renewing "umty through
diversity." Similarities becween ecology and crea tive cransmutacion are indetenninacion inlo mauer."4 ~ Bergson speaks of the mfinite crealivity of
=-
indicative of an alcemative kind of landscape architecture, one in which cal- ~ ~)- biological and imaginative life. In his refusal to reduce narure to a physical,
cified conventiorlS about how people live and reuHc to land, nature, and ;;- !~.l "knowable" object, he describes a need to liberace life so that its fullesc
place are challenged and the multivariace wonders of life are once again Z. -~~ ~otenuals may come inco appearance. Bergson's is a creaove evolucion of
released through invention. i ,¡,~:. mdeterminace unfolding, a process in which "macter is the deposu of life, the
These fonns of ecological cre.aávity would appear to follow from Henri -dY Static residues of amons done, cho1ces made in the past. Living memory is
Bergson's remark in Creative Evolution that "thc role of life is to inJect sorne Lhe pase feh m the actualiues of reahues, of change. "-1 5 Such an imerrela-
102 R ET ROS PE C T E C O L O G Y A N O LA N OSCA P E AS A G E N T S O F CREA T I V I T Y 103

tional view directs us toward more "heterolopic" kinds of activity and space ··
than singular, "utopic" acts. Whereas heterotopia's ad hoc inclusivity and
openendedness portends a dislurbing and bewildering prospect, it also sys-
temaúcally denies singularity, totalicy, delerminacy, and hierarchy. As a
"suucrured hecerogeneicy," such a complex field is neither chaocic nor
ordered, bue free and organic. Thus, a lIUly ecologicaJ landscape architecrure
mighc be less about the consuuclion of finished and complete works, and
more about the design of "processes," "stralegies," "agencies," and "scaCfold- ...
l - • 1-· ·- •
ings"-caralytic frameworks that might enable a diversicy of relationships lo
1 -..;, Qm • = . 1

creare, emerge, necwork, interconnecc, and differenóate."6


The aim for the design of these strategic grounds would be not to cele-
brare differemianon and pluralism in a representaúonal way, but rather lo
consrruct enabling relationships between the freedoms of life (in lerms of
unpredictability, conringency, and change) and the presence of formal
cohcrcncy and strucruraVmaterial precision. This double aim underlies-in
pan-the work of Rem Koolhaas and is panicularly well exemplified in his
unbuilc proposal for the Pare de la Vtlleue, Paris, in which the delineation
and "cquipping" of a "strategic field" with "social instrumems" was planned ~
lo optimize physical, spatíal, and material identity wh1le allowing for an
almosc infinite range of programmatic events, combinations, improvisations, •
differentiations, and adjaccncies.47 As Sanford Kwimer describes: "All of
Koolhaas's recent work is nio!ved-rather than designed-within the hypcr-
modem evcnt-spacc of complex, sensitive, dynamical indctcnninacy and
change... . (The design principies display] a very clear orientation toward
evolulionary, time-based processes, dynamic geometric structurations-not
scrucrures per se, bul forms that follow and fill the wake of concrete yet
unpredecerminablc events... . This is because, inslead of designing artificial
envuonments, [KoolhaasJ deploys richly 1mbricated systems of inceracring
elements that set in motion rather artifictal ecologies that, in lum, take on a
genuine self-organizing life of their own.""8 The resultant "image" of such
designs may noc be one that is curremly thought to be ccological in appear-
ance (which, as I have argued, remains fallaciously bound up with ideas of
untouched and native "narure"), but its strategic organicism-its dcploy-
ment as an active agent, a metabolic urbamsm-aspires to nOLhtng less than
the inJection of indctermination, diversificauon, and freedom inca both the
social :md Natural worlds-values that are surely central to any ecological,
moral, and poeuc notions about evolutionary and creative life. Other pro-
104 RETROSPECT E COLOGY ANO L A NDSCA P E A S A G E NTS OF CREATIVITY 105

... :~...
.
...,:'~! how creative praclices of ecology and landscape archnecture construct--or,
..:?.'.- more precisely, enable-altemalive fonns oí relationship and hybridization
~!,:~·
;: '""' ..
becween people, place, material, and Earth. Echoing evolutionary principies,
}¡ f11~- these enabling strateg1es funccion less as instrurnents and amehorants and
~ ~~ more as agents, as processes, as active imbroglios and ever-emerging nec-
·r. -,~~ works of potenual. Obviously, 1 am speaking here of a landscape architecture
•., that has yet to appear fully, one that is less preoccupied wtth ameliorative,
;'Ystylistic, or pictorial concems and more acúvely engaged with imaginative,
·' enabling, and diversifying pracúces-praaic,s of the wild.49
~ How may the pulsing ílow and flux of wtld life, tts autonomous status
Zas uother," and its reílective and moral sense be channeled, liberated, and
· expressed through an ecology and landscape of crea ti ve agents? The answers,
~ 1 believe, lie within the powers of both Natural and cultural agencies in the

Rem Koolhoos--OMA. Pare de lo Wleae. Poris; dewd from mode/


.~
· ;·evolving of landscapes chat precipitate (and are caught within) processes of
. '·indeterminalion and divers1fication; landscapes chat engage, enable, diver-
(unbullt proposoQ. /982-1983. Reprinted wíth pcrmission ofOMA ·~"?"-sify, trick, emanc1pate, and elude-put simply, landscapes thal funcuon as
0

• • actants, as continua[ transfonnalions and encouncers that actively resist clo-


,.:

"1i~:~ sure and represencation 50


f.
Rem Koolhoas--OMA. Ptonometne dcmonstrotion, Pare de lo ~!!f·
V"úleae, Pons (unbuilt proposoQ. /982-/983. Drowmr by Alcx WoU.
Reprinred with perm,u,on o( OMA. ·t,~OTES
l. Colcndge 1845, p. 223.

jects by Koolhaas, such as Yokobama Harbor, further demonstrale the oneiric


lyricism of programmatic srrategies that remain open-ended and promoce 23-2'1.
new life-forms and sets of evems.
7. The relauonsh1p becwccn b1ological, cvoluuonary processes and the human tmagmauon
is discussed beautiíully m Cobb 1977. Crcativity and cvolulion is also irnplicil in Bcrgson
19+!.
CODA
' 8. Clark 1993, p. 351.
My purpose in this essay is to present a number of theoretical bases thal 9. Comer 1991 , pp. 125- 31
might allow for a more anímate appropriation of ecology in landscape archi- 10. Habermas 1983; Goin 1996.
tecrural praccice. These bases have lictle to do wilh the object-centered advo- , •; 11. Ahhough the tendcncy to speak oí a duallty becween naturc and culture has persu.ted
~ throughout modcmity, the 1ru1h oí this belid has been challcnged by utour 1993, who
cacy of Nature (~environment") or culture ("an") and point instead toward
:;· argues that thc social and natural worlds are 1ncxtncably interrel:u cd. See, also, Ehzabeth
the highly interacúve processes and relationships that are life itself-life as K. Mcyer's c.ssay in this book.
both a specific and autonomous system of networks, forces, combinations, ~ - 12. Comer 1990.
unfoldings, events, and transformations. What is imponant in this view is . · .· 13. McHarg 1969
106 RETROSPECT E C OL OG Y ,.\NO LANDSCAPE AS AGENT S O F C REAT I VITY 107

H. Womcr 1979, p. 315.


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