Our first class of “Site Operations” was a discussion about the public’s perception of landscape and how it resulted from both history and improving technology.  To pick a starting point, man viewed nature during the Dark Ages as “wild” and savage.  With the arrival of the Renaissance, man began to take an interest in nature and proceeded to use tools, including mapping and cartography, to categorize and organize it, thus taking possession and authority over it.  As man progressed into the 1800s, it saw the arrival of photography which “bears witness to the real,” a visual construct of simultaneity, both evidence and expression.  As man began his journey to the West, he encountered the perceived “primordial” nature.  With the Antiquities Act, nature began to take on a “historic cultural status.”  As photography marked a shift from an aural to a visual culture, it provided a disparity between the perceived and the real.  What people viewed as the scenic national park in photographs, was really one of increasing infrastructure and construction.  During this time of industry and natural exploration, a movement emerged in which corporations promoted the concept of harmony of industry and nature, thus the nostalgic scene of railroad tracks converging into the distance, a small mark upon the earth.  As humanity progressed, the airplane arrived, ushering in a new spatial order and different conception of the landscape.  Landscape now could be seen from above, allowing for the spatial juxtaposition of both the mundane, say farmland, and the politically charged, an air force base within the same aerial view.  Professor Thun states that these points are to “reflect upon and not necessarily to absorb as fact.”

As we progress into the 21st century, how will man perceive nature and what characteristics will he impose upon it?  Man has began to look upon nature as something needing rehabilitation, no longer a savage part of his world, but one that is scientifically measured, calculated, and predicted.  Man has realized that nature is all powerful to destroy the work of man, but it is not all powerful in effect to control its own path.  Nature is an objective act of our world, yet man imposes upon it certain requirements it hopes it will do.  More than any other time in Western History, the 21st century man has been attempting to live symbiotically with nature.  The mere act of creating a green roof, placing the earth above one’s own head, attests to this psychological expression of working with the earth.  Yet nature at the same time is seen as a place of predicament and conflicting interests.  Man has not yet found how to take what he wants while simultaneously providing benefit to nature.

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