Faslanyc recently wrote a post On Landscape Ontology II: Production, Extraction, and Generative Capacity (also be sure to check out a response by F.A.D.) In it he attempts to come to a better understanding of the concepts of production, extraction, and generative capacity. He closes with a evocation of an alternative future, practice.
“We might evolve other landscape practices, ones that draw on the methodologies of the bee super and the brew master as much as the architect and the engineer, and doesn’t jump the shark on the systems metaphor but grapples with objective material reality and the abstract system.”
This idea of looking to biological process, systems or actions to develop a projective future for landscape practice I think is also illustrated nicely by two recent examples of productive, landscape scale, infrastructures of a sort, from history and natural science. That I have only recently encountered.
First via the BBC News post Gazelles caught in ancient Syrian ‘killing zones I learned of an ancient site (6,000 plus years old) Tell Kuran, where enigmatic stone structures, that dot the now Syrian landscape, were designed as an ancient tool for harvesting gazelles. These structures were essential a land-scaled net for filtering and funneling herbivores. They are the landscape but also distinct and articulated. Soft(ened) by time and their ritualistic use.
Later I was watching The Blue Planet Seas of Life and was introduced to the marvel that is the bubbler crab. An animal which filters out their food from the landscape they live in. By consuming their surrounding tide-scape and leaving behind a new designed bubble-scape.
This video is almost psychedelically slow, yet real time. Watching it puts me into a stupor. These crabs shape through excretion. They reside in the same material that they extract their sustenance from.
Think about meanings for “living in your net“… Water-food-community-shed?
The ancient Syrians designed a landscape scaled net for producing amongst other things ritual. The crabs similarly extract food, producing bubble-scapes . In a cycle of the tides, using a productive landscape of re-generative systems and designed ecologies. Ultimately, I think it is useful to reflect on what a productive landscape is. Is it the same as a generative one? One thought is that perhaps, productive refers to a landscape which creates value/resources from the processes of farming (food, water etc) while generative refers to landscapes which can amongst other things create other forms of productivity (ie: can create a productive or other type of landscape)…
Could we draw lessons from the idea of living in your net? Of making our living more directly off our land? Would it mean locality and creative interfacing? Between user and creator, between resource and landscape? Can we let the productivity of our landscape better guide the generative designed experience? Moving beyond productivity to a model wherein the net (or tool of productive extraction) isn’t deployed within the landscape but is the landscape Or creates new, possible landscapes….