Landscapes, Hyperobjects, and the Linguistic Turn: some thoughts on Timothy Morton’s “Zero Landscapes in the Time of Hyperobjects”

Although somewhat academic, difficult in parts to fathom and not being able to read the original in German, but am in turn intrigued enough by its passages translated here, that I think I will try to find more about it  from faslasync

Not too long ago we got our grubby hands on Timothy Morton’s provocatively titled essay “Zero Landscapes in the time of Hyperobjects”.  It was written for the Graz Architecture Magazine, a publication of the Graz University in Germany and boasting of a very fine editorial board and an absolutely bulletproof lineup in issue 7.  Morton is the author of the recent influential books Dark Ecology and The Ecological Thought, and has spent a lot of time in the last year speaking on object- oriented philosophy.  Last January we read on his blog the following quote:

I had such a good time composing an essay for Graz Architectural Magazine that I thought I should just share it a little bit. It’s called “No Landscape”—the issue is about the role of landscape in ecological design (I believe). I take the “Zero” in the issue’s title very seriously. I mean absolutely no more landscapes, whatsoever…”

In one of the best passages, Morton states:

If we’re going to think beyond the modern period, beyond the era of philosophy, society and ecology in which we have been stuck for about two hundred years, then we will have to let go of the idea of landscape as a picture in a frame, even if the picture is liquid and motile, like a movie.  Why? The problem is the notion of the frame, and the distance the viewer has to assume for the landscape to appear as such. Because of this distance, the landscape embodies a subjective (whatever word works best for you here, “spiritual,” “ideological,” whatever) state. The picture is about the attitude you must assume to look at the picture. It’s less about land, then, and more about scape.  

It’s all very Genesis 3:6.  Nonetheless, it does point to a real difference between intentionality and agency in the landscape, and compellingly suggests future landscape designs will have to grapple with this minute chasm.  More hopefully, it offers the rudiments of some of the conceptual tools that will be needed in this task, specifically his defining and characterizing of the hyperobject and challenging the historical biases and weaknesses of the landscape approach.  These should be further prototyped and tested and added to the good work already underway.

[Adam, Eve, Satan, the hills, the sky, the groundwater, the mycorrhizae, all together in the Garden of Eden hyperobject/landscape on the Sistine Chapel]

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