Embracing Imminence: land … scapes and the peculiar distance by Kate Church

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Abstract

Embracing Imminence casts a realigned landscape practice into the temporal lag immediately preceding the Anthropocene’s official ratification, anticipating the conceptual and disciplinary implications of this epoch. ‘Imminence’ is a temporal condition which is simultaneously anticipatory and deferred. This research articulates three modes of landscape practice that intensify what James Corner calls the ‘peculiar distance’ of landscape architecture’s mediated agency, foregrounding a durational understanding of the landscape as an imminent condition. Geologic signifiers of perpetual and serial change are apprehended through the research as harbingers of a likely near-future landscape condition. Through the modes of plotting, gleaning and fabricating, I explore the mobility and flux of the land in relation to the geological agency of the body. Each mode ‘grasps for’ and suspends the dynamic, entangled conditions of the restless body and the shifting ground as an expanded practice of making. Collectively, these modes of practice modulate, waylay and ‘hold open’ a relation to imminence.

Just before the last bastion of the ground’s metaphoric stability is jettisoned, it must shed its associations of solidity, homogeneity and stasis. We are, as Tim Ingold (2015) foretells, cast adrift unable to cling to the customary narrative of the material ground as a natural foundation separate from our own human agency. The research encounters, forecasts and obfuscates the co-composed conditions of this rapid acceleration, and the increasing instability of the geologic, through three scapes: Siltscape, Sandscape, and Saltscape. By running counter to Cartesian renditions of the ground as immobile or inert, the scapes reveal the ground’s volatility and mobility. They capture shifts that are perceivable in a human lifetime, as opposed to the geological epochs by which most geomorphological changes are registered. This augurs a research terrain simultaneously horizontal, geologic and durational… a terrain that trembles a processual latency between the now and the just before. Embracing Imminence demonstrates an orientation for speculative landscape praxis that accrues and amplifies the mediated conditions of landscape architectural practice, and engages the preoccupation with uncertainty that is heralded by this epoch.

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