Volume #31: Guilty Landscapes
Guilt has been effectively used to control and manipulate the masses. But it can also be the start of a change for the better: awareness, concern, action. Engagement and guilt are never far apart. Engagement is sublimated guilt. We can build on guilt, but can we build with guilt? Is guilt a material to design with?
In three sections: revelations, confessions, and atonement, the issue presents a global scan of large-scale guilty landscapes and our design relation to them. A major section is dedicated to the Chernobyl ‘exclusion zone’ as a post nuclear disaster area, with other contributions focusing on landscapes transformed by mining industries, waste, human atrocities and more, as well as ways to atone for these criminal acts.
The content for this issue was developed in collaboration with Unknown Fields Division. Contributions by Liam Young, Kate Davies, Ilkka Halso, Timothy Morton, Brendan Cormier, John Gollings, Michelle Kasprzak, Vincent van Velsen, Kris Verdonck, Neil Berrett, Yan Lu, David Maisel, Will Wiles, Nele Vos, Michael Brenner, Chris Jordan, Greg Barton, Brandon Mosley, Edward Burtynsky, Bas Princen, Mario Petrucci, Tokyo Hackerspace, Safecast, Aram Mooradian, Garth Lenz, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, William Fox, Make It Right Foundation, 51N4E, Kelly Nelson Doran, Protei, Subhankar Banerjee, Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu, Guy Tillim, Susan Berger, Noero Wolff Architects, Jonathan Gales, Captains of Industry, Nicole Koltick, Youarethecity, Regina Peldszus, Bryan Allen. Interviews with Michael Madsen, Peter Swinnen.
Volume #31: Guilty Landscapes
Binding: Soft cover
ISBN: 9 789 077 966 310
Price: € 19.50
Release: 4 May, 2012
Editor in chief: Arjen Oosterman
Contributing editors: Ole Bouman, Rem Koolhaas, Mark Wigley
Co-editors for this issue: Liam Young and Kate Davies
Feature editor: Jeffrey Inaba
Design: Irma Boom and Sonja Haller
Publisher: Stichting Archis
It is typical for human beings to mould nature, justifying their actions by their aesthetic and economic aspirations. But nature cannot endure everything.
In Halso’s photographs, control over nature has acquired a concrete form. The elements of nature have been rethought and have, for logistical purposes, been packed into modules that are easier to handle. The whole of nature is stored in a gigantic warehouse complex and the most common types of nature from soil and flora to fauna can be easily assembled into working ecosystems. What is happening? Has nature been evacuated to await better times, or has it been simplified into merchandise and absurd tableaux? When Halso is looking into the future she doesn’t like what she sees.
For decades satellite imagery has provided data for, and insights into, a huge amount of different fields of science such as ecology, geosciences, meteorology, and urban planning. Nowadays the usage of satellite imagery has increased overwhelmingly as consumer applications have found their way to the market – think about Google maps, navigation apps and weather forecasts. Correspondingly governments have found the use of the footage interesting for a broad range of practices, both malicious and positive.
Positive applications include infrastructural planning, mapping of urban expansions and ecological surveillance, though more nefarious uses have been featured frequently over the last few months: malicious military practices, observed and recorded by satellites, have been revealed to the public via the media. The fact that satellite imagery is increasingly used when it comes to media coverage and public presentations concerning politics and warfare shows the established importance of satellites for a broad range of purposes.
‘Guilty landscape’ is a notion borrowed from the Dutch painter, sculptor, writer, and musician Armando, who wrote about such landscapes more than once. Living in Amersfoort before, during, and after the Second World War, close to a concentration camp situated in the woods, he was very aware that the innocent forest of his youth had witnessed the horrors of war and the Holocaust.
Labelling a martyr is, in a way, an expression of collective guilt. Martyrs are a simultaneous reminder of the hopes and ideals that an individual stood for, and also the oppressive nature of humankind to smother those ideals. Memorializing martyrs then is a way of atoning for this collective guilt and to give renewed hope that the dreams of the fallen can somehow be realized. A popular way of memorializing martyr is to name streets after them – creating a potentially difficult juxtaposition. To what extent can a street, subject to all the pressures of the city, live up to the lofty ideals of an individual? And what does it say of us when a memorialized street itself becomes a symbol of broken dreams? Guy Tillim and Susan Berger have both created photo series that examine this deep irony.
Garth Lenz is a photographer who uses his images to communicate larger environmental issues and broadcast clear messages for change. His work on the Athabasca oil sands, in the photo series ‘The True Cost of Oil’, aims at documenting the scale and scope of environmental transformation occurring due to oil extraction. As the title suggests, lenz asks the viewers to ask themselves what cost are they willing to bear, for their oil consumption.