Remoteness is driven by memory and assumption of the unknown; when coupled with the inherent need to leave no territory unmarked, spatial boundaries fluctuate between tangible and unquantifiable processes. Representations have led to the emergence of a new territory that is grounded no more in space than it is in time. As moments of physical displacement within landscapes gain prominence, remoteness is seen to operate as a condition able to transcend demarcation.
Establishing connectivity between the entities that lie within a greater territory calls for the interrogation of space. Whether through the distribution of physical settlements or through the definition of virtual boundaries, mediating the divide places remoteness within a near-instantaneous reach. Through interrogating a series of themes: conditioning, translations, transpositions, and tangibility — remoteness is understood to be no more concerned with the inaccessibility of spatial interiors than it is with the interpretation of desolate environments.
Conditioning recognition distinguishes between space as it exists, and space as it is interpreted. Navigating between real and virtual territories has driven the reconfiguration of materiality, with new modes of interconnectedness continually emerging as information is distributed between these two realms. Translations examines how future territories may be defined as occupation physically shifts into new intermediary spaces. The repositioning of inhabitable spaces to include what lies below the urban surface and above the Earth’s atmosphere allows for exploration of the opportunities afforded by technological advancement. To a larger extent, Transpositions speculates upon the processes that may only be investigated pending a physical departure from the established ground-plane. Negotiations between horizontal and vertical planes permit a new spatial coherence. However, with greater regional connectivity comes greater social isolation. Tangibility considers remote territories as landscapes defined by on-ground processes and the physical limitations of place. With memory and assumption as additional factors, geographical boundaries are redefined through the gradual occupation of previously desolate territories.
Conditioning lends itself to the notion of information being no longer contained within the limits or boundaries of the ground-plane. Traditional methods of accumulating and ordering elements within territories, whether they be large-scale urban settlements or small-scale experiential moments, are no longer applicable as methods of defining space shift from a historical cartographic approach towards one that is conditional. Through reinterpreting the limitations placed upon the occupation of space and the creation of place, this approach presents a range of alternatives through which territories may be viewed and considered. Notions of what it means to be isolated shift as experiences of the real are able to be tailored and manipulated, either cognitively or through the use of a mediating interface. The boundaries that define occupiable territories are no longer merely physical.
MODES OF RECOGNITION
Reality is formed through our participation with things: images, values, cultural codes, places, cognitive schemata, events and maps.1
Environments are demarcated by the areas that surround them — areas defined by the elements that determine differing spatial programs. However, landscape elements embody more than what is seen. New interpretative spatial structures have been created through removing mass from elements previously thought of as heavily weighted, thereby testing the limits and boundaries that otherwise challenge the notion of physical territories. Introducing alternative modes of recognition through which the landscape may be interpreted brings to light information previously hidden behind the facade of matter. Information absorbed by way of interface can, either consciously or subconsciously, project reinterpretations of environments experienced either instantaneously or at a distance.
The absence of spatial programming has led to alternative methods of reading space, whether through cognitive conditioning, as asserted by Ryan Dewey, or through relinquishing all notion of what it means to define and inhabit place in a traditional sense, as seen in Aditnalta by Mond Qu. The physicality of place is still present in these two instances. It is merely the occupational experience that has been reconfigured, through methods that no longer relate to the grounding or materiality of physical place .
In conversation, Benjamin H. Bratton purports the notion that information contained within matter is never able to establish physical permanence, as the storage of information continually shifts between an occupation of past and present time. Through rethinking and reinterpreting matter, the conditions that shape territories occupied by material elements are no longer strictly spatial. Able to be understood in temporal terms, these territories exist as an ‘ever renewable present that is complex and multiple, a continuous proliferation of divergent or singular points’.2 Matter has shifted from one form of physicality to another, disassociated from its original form. Information that now occupies cloud-based territories is thought to have lost all physicality. However, physicality has not been lost so much as reconfigured, with the data used to compile this information stored within discrete entities in remote locations - out of sight, out of mind.
The experience of spatial life today is as much immaterial as it is physical, as much bound into time and relational connections as it is to traditional notions of enclosure and place.3
An active displacement of the environmental processes that occur upon the horizontal ground-plane is crucial to uncovering alternative modes of occupying space. Concepts proposed by James Ramsey and William Clancey reinterpret landscape processes so that they may function in re-appropriated spaces above and beneath the groundplane. The absence of environmental processes such as unfiltered sunlight, as in The Lowline by James Ramsey, allows for new territories to be constructed independently of any preconceived notions surrounding the ways in which spatial systems function. New territories are built with the intention of housing specific processes, so as to create a conditionally controlled environment. Whether through the reclamation of places rendered obsolete, or through the occupation of the greater atmospheric expanse, the future of landscape occupation can only be speculated upon following the abandonment of the historical notions associated with place-making.
Conditions change, grow and develop with time, in a sequential order that leaves them in relative tact. Casey Lance Brown and Rob Holmes’ investigation into chaotic systems — systems not determined by a specific spatial logic (financial, social and developmental systems) — comprise of ever-present processes. Such systems produce erratic outcomes, causing dramatic fluctuations among spatial ordering. Ordering these systems so they may be read as a ·cohesive territory calls for a reinterpretation of order, achieved through analysing the chaotic ways in which processes have continued to occur in competition with one another within both the dense urban environment and the remote field.
Speculating upon the future of spatial occupation requires an interrogation of present infrastructures and the overarching milieu, as in Oi! Your Shadow’s Over the Line by Ja Kyung Kim. An understanding of the ways and means by which above-ground systems have thrived and faltered can be established through investigations into the land processes required to fuel the production of environmental resources. By forgoing the zones that demarcate pre-existing social and spatial territories, such investigations speculate upon the future of modes of inhabitation through understanding the ways in which material elements and immaterial patterns and processes may be reinterpreted and applied to other territories beyond the ground-plane.
Future Landscapes, Extreme Projections
The future of landscapes considers the reclamation of underutilised spaces on either side of the occupiable groundplane. As in The Lowline by James Ramsey, subterranean territories are able to be carved out as habitable space, with processes that occur upon the horizontal ground-plane translated to function within such territories previously deemed uninhabitable. This idea is similarly seen in the work of Ja Kyung Kim and her project Oi! Your Shadow’s Over the Line. Through reappropriating social and spatial conditions analogous to those that occur upon the groundplane, disused intermediary territories can house citizens through newly established laws, notions and ideas that are able to modulate interactions between inhabitants.
Have acts of reclaiming spatial, social and ecological displacement — as a result of extreme scenario propositions — caused rifts among communities of people, transforming how citizens interact with inhabitable territories? Similarly, has striving to reach out to remote areas that transcend horizontal depth fostered a sense of remoteness that is no more about physical grounding than the recognition of abandonment or isolation?
Projecting new urban and regional futures must derive less from a utopia of form and more from a utopia of process — how things work, interact and interrelate in space and time.4
In its present state, the heterogeneous landscape can be defined as a territory comprised of static elements, unevenly proportioned in relation to the field that surrounds it, as well as uneven in its reach to neighbouring elements. While some elements exist in close proximity to one another, others are situated a great distance apart — remotely similar, and similarly remote. New means of establishing spatial stability has led to the even redistribution of settlements across larger territories, providing inhabitants with uniform access and opportunity to goods and services while eradicating the discernable formal, social and ecological differences. Blurring the spatial and social boundaries that might otherwise segregate regions can establish order and homogeneity of the material systems thought to be integral to an interconnected, self-reliant, operational territory.5 However, achieving an even distribution of the structural elements that compose such systems asks for consideration to be given to the multidimensional space.
The notion of territory must be recognised as wholly capable of defining the entire urban-rural gradient as a field of interconnected processes and services before it can be applied across multiple scales. Traversing expanses and resituating landscape elements, so they may exist simultaneously across multiple scales and planes, allows for greater control over the processes present within both the horizontal interior and in the depths of the atmosphere. Retaining links to on-ground processes while rethinking traditional modes of planar habitation calls for the ability to navigate the interstitial space that lies between ground and atmosphere, so as to establish even distribution. Such is the case in The Utilitarian Pergola by Rene van Meeuwen and felix.
A push towards vertical expansion is not the only method of establishing spatial order and even distribution, however. Processes occurring on the ground-plane are not restricted to this surface, as the impact of land-based processes can register far into, and beyond, the third axis, infiltrating atmospherics and altering future modes of habitation. As in Far Away, Deep Down, Close In by Michael Light, the invisible impacts of processes once thought of as producing only tangible effects is evidenced through the deterioration of the Earth’s atmosphere — produced at a spatio-temporal distance, independent of the ground-plane from which such consequences stem. Regardless of which axis such urban, suburban or rural expansions occur along, this act cannot be viewed as a faultless method of reclaiming remoteness, as new forms of spatial and social isolation may be created as a result.
We travel daily through a multitude of unexplained black holes. They have become the dorninant feature of peripheries and urbanized countries.6
Remote territories indicative of historical associations are comprised of few material elements. Associations with place in this instance are defined by the physical boundaries that differentiate between adjacent territories and resulting experiences, as conveyed by Shaun Gladwell in Proposed Journey to the Googled Centre of Australia.
Physical elements within territories are indicative of historical associations, their mere existence able to attribute permanence to space. Spatial repetition is dictated by fragments of history that solidify familiar formal attributes within space, forming a generic environment.7 However, within this similarity lies the opportunity for intensive interrogation and revolt. By carving out physically occupiable pockets of isolation, remoteness may be used as a tool for interrupting uniformity able to facilitate the passive action of reflection and contemplation.8 Interpretations of experiences within desolate spaces
found amid populated regions, as seen in Suburban by Ian Strange, articulates remoteness in the context of the dense urban environment, loosely capturing an intermediary moment as it is positioned between the tangible and intangible material demarcations of space.
Remoteness as it is positioned as an experiential event uses scale as a determinant. Read at a scale small enough to allow for an immersive experience, within a space held within the greater context of place, moments of isolation are able to be captured and held within the boundaries set by physical structures — structures that articulate spatial differences. Such moments are able to ‘engage relationships between architecture, landscape and city across a range of formal, ecological, social and other criteria’ and generate a new interconnected reading of place.9
While elemental repetition and environmental familiarity amplify the continuous norm of a generic city, sharp architectural contrasts (through both form and program) as found in a city comprised of fragmented elements can reclaim a lost spatial identity.10 Eliminating distinctions between multiple forms as they exist within an urban field is analogous with the blurring of boundaries between interior and exterior space. In a broader context, this is read as the blurring of boundaries that demarcate didifferent territories, at scales ranging from suburban to global.
Harnessing the invisible processes that derive from the dispersal of geological, hydrolgical and atmospheric elements can transform undefined space into an inhabitable place. Reconfigurations of the pre-existing elements throughout multidimensional space have reestablished connectivity as a means of reclaiming remote landscapes. Through alternative modes of spatial recognition and interpretation, either cognitively or technologically, landscapes are now able to be experienced as spaces independent of physical planes along a horizontal or vertical axis.
Real space is actualised through a developed understanding of how current ground processes are able to co-exist as they are reconfigured and controlled to act analogously within territories. However, the ubiquitous application of material elements across previously unclaimed territories does not consider changing scales across different regions. Defining place through domesticated rituals, rather than through direct and intuiive interaction, engages with similarity. To define landscapes through familiarity and proximity, whether it be within an urban or rural context, is to the detriment of the structure, function and diversity of landscape processes. Through harnessing indecipherable moments at a broader extent, remoteness is no longer an inaccessible condition — its existence made permanent through dispersal across a newly defined landscape.
Attempts to make sense of landscapes once remote have left no territory unmarked. Whether through records or representations of demarcated spatial zones, interpretations of remoteness extend far beyond physically quantifiable boundaries. The projects presented within this edition of Kerb have nurtured further spatial avenues of interpreting remoteness, from the vast expanse to the minute moments of physical displacement.Through the creation of place and the understanding of space, landscape architecture is able to solidify the intermediary.
- J Corner, ‘The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Intervention’, in D Cosgrove (ed.), Mappings, London, Reaktion Books, 1999.↩
- S Kwinter, Architecture of Time, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 2001.↩
- Corner, ‘The Agency of Mapping’.↩
- M Mostafavi, ‘Why Ecological Urbanism, Why Now?’, in M Mostafavi and G Doherty (eds.), Ecological Urbanism Zurich: Lars Muller Pubmishers, 2015.↩
- C Girot, ‘Vision in Motion: Representing Landscape in Time’, in C Waldheim (ed.), The Landscape Urbanism Reader, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.↩
- R Koolhaas and B Mau, ‘The Generic City’ in S, M, L, XL, New York: Moncaelli Press, 1995.↩
- Kwinter, Architectures of Time.↩
- L Pollak, ‘Constructed Ground: Questions of Scale’ in C Waldheim (ed.), The Landscape Urbanism Reader, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.↩
- Kwinter, Architectures of Time.↩