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如何讀地景(by肉圓邑)

12/21/2008

300px-lightningvolt_barn2008秋季,BC教授帶大夥兒在威斯康辛州南部繞啊繞地’讀’地景.回到課堂上,所有成員討論著’讀’地景的方式與不同學科間對’地景’(landscape)不同的理解和研究取向.BC於是說,乾脆我們來建立一個’如何讀地景’(How to Read Landscape)的網頁,大家從自己的學科出發,用簡單的語言,並結合威斯康辛州的例子,提供如何’讀’地景的小提示(tips),然後集結放到網頁上.我從人文地理學的角度,寫了以下幾個小提示.如果對其他成員提供的內容有興趣,可以到BC教授的網頁裡瞧瞧,按這裡就可以了!

Landscapes always express and reflect relationships: learn to recognize and understand these.
Landscapes express the networks, connections, and mobilities that drive the ongoing process of place-making. This dynamism means that landscape is situated in a relational process and should never be regarded as pre-given, isolated, or static. For example, a seemingly ordinary landscape of a Wisconsin farm near a small town has always been affected by in-state markets, inter-state transportation systems, international trade, global flows of goods, and so on. Accordingly, landscape should always be understood as manifesting spatial relations on multiple scales.

Look for what may be concealed in a landscape.
Landscape can operate as a veil concealing the historical truth of socioeconomic conditions, and thus manipulate people’s perceptions of a place. For example, while the Meriter Hospital in downtown Madison is evidence of earlier urban renewal, behind this landscape “curtain,” it may also hide a story about the mid-twentieth-century displacement of an earlier poor and marginalized community. Here landscape is not only a present setting for the inhabitants, but also a veil obscuring earlier struggles or achievements in history.

Think about the relation between landscape and modes of production and consumption.
Modes of production and consumption constitute many elements and spatial relationships that you will find in landscapes, so the ways landscape functions have changed in different times and spaces. These can be traced by thinking about changes in production and consumption. The drive-through facility in fast-food restaurants, for instance, may reflect a history of Fordist car production, highway construction, and mass consumption. These in turn have helped create the fast food culture now embedded in contemporary American landscapes and the lifestyles that go with them.

Read landscapes from the perspective of representationsand_county_almanac
Landscape consists not only of the physical and material elements we encounter in a place, but also the representations of these things via texts, including arts, maps, and pictures. Understanding landscape in terms of its representations leads to questions about power and authority. Reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Alamanc, for instance, readers experience landscape descriptions that represent Leopold’s choices, values, and beliefs. At the same time, readers may also discern more hidden codes and meanings, the assumptions imposed on landscape by the historical context during which a given representation was produced.

Pay attention to the relations between landscape and identity
Landscape use and change could signify the beliefs and perceptions of different human groups about who should or should not belong to a particular place or community. Landscape thus contributes to an individual’s identity, which is often defined in opposition to other social groups. For example, different styles of farm houses and barns denote the different identities of ethnic immigrants in Wisconsin; the glacial geology combined with idyllic farm scenes to produce a “Wisconsin” or “Midwest” identity. In other words, landscape defines normative understandings of “self” and “other,” “inside” and “outside,” for various social categories and the human beings who dwell within those categories.

Consider the relation between monuments and politics of memory
Monuments as an important element of landscape can offer evidence of social values, and therefore convey memories about the past as well as expectations for the future. Although not necessarily always seen as a monument, a place like Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison, Wisconsin, reminds visitors of people in the past who shaped Madison with their actions and values. Particular historical narratives conveyed by monuments also raise questions about the politics of memory. It is always worth asking about memories that may have been forgotten and how the return of those erased memories can change the ways we think about modern landscapes.

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