INTANGIBLE LANDSCAPES: an argument for the realignment of landscape representation and theory through network visualization
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The graphics we make influence the ways we create and conceive of landscape. The static graphic conventions currently preferred within landscape architecture often fall short of capturing the intangible characteristics inherent in dynamic landscape systems. Such graphics leave intangible landscape characteristics unaccounted for in not only our representations, but also our designed spaces and common understandings. This trend runs counter to the foundations of contemporary landscape understanding, most notably ecological theory and phenomenological philosophy. This is problematic for viewers as it perpetuates the common perception of landscape as immutable object. Similarly, such static images deprive researchers of potentially revelatory graphic experiences. Structured as a classical argument, this project begins to build the case that landscape architecture does not prioritize the representation of intangible and non-spatial landscape qualities. When reflected in our built work, this may function to the detriment of such intangible landscape qualities as community connection, ecological functionality, and landscape perception. Networks represent the intangible concept of connection, a crucial characteristic of landscape in both ecological and social capacities. Graphic depictions of networks are widespread outside the field of landscape architecture, and common graphic trends emerge across disparate subjects and fields of study, as shown in the research of designer and data visualization expert Manuel Lima. This project evaluates the degree to which landscape architecture as a field has embraced these graphic trends in its depiction of landscapes through a comprehensive examination of the graphics used in award winning landscape architectural projects over the past 10 years. In doing so, the project supports the argument that landscape architectural graphics continue to preference the depiction of spatial, projection-based imagery over the depiction of intangible landscape elements and suggests tools from outside the field as possible strategies for rectifying this misalignment.