Friday, September 26, 2008

Semantics: The Dao of Nature (Landscape Arch.)

Way to the waterfall
Originally uploaded by tienoz
Today in class after discussing an article titled "Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity" by James Corner I have the following thoughts.

What is Nature? Many people view nature as separate from man. Most people categorize things as either "man-made" or "natural" never seeing them as the same.

This is a fundamental mistake in our language as well as our actions and how we go about things. Man-kind can never be separate from nature. We grew out of nature and we will thus be a part of it forever. We must learn to put ourselves back into the context of nature. Our earth is going to change and we must thus change along with it. We may or may not affect that change, but regardless our actions are a part of the flow of nature and we are responsible for those actions.

Imagine an ant, the anthill it builds, or a bird and its nest. We have those too, they are called buildings, parks, roads and cities. Our cities form like crystals growing out of a Petri dish. Those “natural curves” are just as natural as straight lines. Some people say there are not straight lines in nature, but halite crystals are rectilinear and the last time I checked slate was pretty straight.

We can no longer separate ourselves from nature in any way. In every way it is fundamentally incorrect fallacious to do so. We ARE nature whether our actions are construed as “good” or “bad” towards the environment. Pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, nuclear wars, saving trees, replenishing the ozone layer, recycling, cloning, hiking, extinction, ALL part of that is our contribution to the flow of nature even if that extinction is our own. Everything we do is within the context of this planet. Even those that travel outside the planet not only developed the means from here but they are still a part of the bigger picture of nature: the universe. We must stop separating ourselves we are not better than our planet.


What is art? In eastern cultures "Art" is interchangeable with "Way". An anglicized version of the Chinese word "Dao" is beginning to be utilized to describe an almost spiritual practice of something. The famous book by Lao Tzu the "Tao Teh Ching" means the "Way (or Art) of Life." In Korean it's "Do" as in "Tae Kwon Do" the "Fist Foot Art/Way". Even in western culture, when one receives a Bachelor of Arts they have learned the "Art" of their field.

Landscape Architects often brush the line of the traditional sense of what art is. Art appeals to the senses and emotions, it is often expressive and almost always creative. But this version of art is not sufficient to describe what it is we do or at least should be doing.

The Art of Nature. The Way of Nature. The Means, The Practice, The DAO of Nature. This is where we must internally and externally, in thoughts, words and actions, in rewriting language, this is where we must look to not in the future but now.

I find that in order to become a meaningful Landscape Architect one must learn to practice nature as an art form. As simply put as that, we must learn the Dao of Nature.

1 comment:

Duong Thuy Tien said...

Wow, You use my image on flickr as illustration :). I enjoy your essay.