The potential in landscape to embody paradoxical ideas of movement and substance brings about the consideration of landscape as a relationship of tensions.
Kevin William Keegan. Form in the Manner of Landscape
… ‘landscape’ was an aesthetic unit that could be captured on a piece of canvas. Landscapes are still strongly associated with painting even today when visual communication is dominated by other media.
Peter Longatti and Thomas Dalang
What I wish to emphasize here is that, when we consider landscape, we are almost always concerned with a visual construct. Landscape is something we look at or imagine as a visual metaphor.
The root ‘land’ means both place and the people living there. In ‘scape’ we can recognise both ‘to shape’ and ‘-ship’ meaning association, as in partnership or friendship.
In this short presentation, I want to raise the question of the relationship between the concepts of "pattern" and "landscape", showing that the phenomenon of landscape can occur in our consciousness only in the presence of a patternized surface. This requires consideration of these two concepts - landscape and pattern. Start with the landscape. There are terms that are often used in the living language of ordinary citizens, but their meaning is not always unambiguous. If such terms are used in the scientific literature, it often leads to contradictions. Such terms include the word "landscape". The concept denoted by this term is represented in different languages by different words.
What is the meaning of the term “landscape”? The Merriam Webster OnLine dictionary: 1: a) a picture representing a view of natural inland scenery, b) the art of depicting such scenery; 2: a) the landforms of a region in the aggregate, b) a portion of territory that can be viewed at one time from one place, c) a particular area of activity; 3: vista (a pleasing view) [Merriam Webster, 1995]. In the important article “The Meaning of “Landscape” P. Longatti and T. Dalang overview the problems of interpretation of term “landscape” and mark that “the meaning has two aspects: one is visual (i.e. the idea of a picture) and the other is physical or geographical (i.e. a part of the land)” [Longatti, Dalang, 2009: 36]. I will note that geography is useless here, because geography does not study the location of parts of the land, but the processes that determine this location. D. Cosgrove asserts that: “Landscapes have an unquestionably material presence, yet they come into being only at the moment of their apprehension by an external observer, and thus have a complex poetics and politics.” [Cosgrove, 2006: 3]. But it is not quite so: landscape cannot be “a part of the land” or “unquestionably material presence” as far as it is a land-organization. Here we are handling not with physical lands but only with its odder (this is not physical lands rather types of lands). This moment is critical. The physical fundament for landscape is a terrain as the part of substantial day surface (one that can be perceived by the senses). We don’t move along landscape but only along physical surface, an organization of which is like a potential information field. As D. Cosgrove notes “Landscape is a connecting term, a Zusammenhang. Much of its appeal to ecologists, architects, planners and others concerned with society and the design of environments lies in landscape’s capacity to combine incommensurate or even dialectically opposed elements: process and form, nature and culture, land and life. Landscape conveys the idea that their combination is – or should be – balanced and harmonious, and that harmony is visible geographically” [Cosgrove, 2006: 7]. Thus, any natural or anthropogenic regime that forms the day surface’ structure, which expresses its organization as the organization of the direction of its action. Just so in early variant the notion of landscape was connected with active social groups.
This is supported by etymology of the word “landscape”: Dutch landschap, from land + -schap, -ship (1598 year). Such interpretations don’t presume the materiality, bodily – it is and exists only as hidden-landscape - ontolandscape. As R.H. Gardner and D.L. Urban write, «Natural areas are being converted into landscapes» [Gardner, Urban, 2006], but not the area - the structure of the corresponding surface being perceived by the observer: this means that the image of the surface includes certain features of the perceiver. It may be said that a landscape is unity of the main terrain’s features, its pattern, and it interpretation affected on the way that peoples shaped the material environment. But just so the day surface structure shaped by natural processes. Such changes are the paternization of the surface which implies the existence of a certain process or regime.
As K. Olwig writes, he criticized the use of this term both in what he saw to be a specifically German sense, where it meant "a definitely restricted area," and in an English sense, where it referred to ''a more or less definitely defined aspect of an unlimited extent of the earth's surface." [Olwig, 2003]. He notes further that “Lowenthal was in the forefront of the geographers who developed the study of landscape perception in which it was the relationship between the perception of "landscape as sensation" and "the objects that produce that sensation" that was in focus” [Olwig, 2003, p. 873]. I reveal this as "the objects that produce that sensation" is substantial day surface with its structure (for example, [Kovalyov, 2009]). So by being active we shape not the landscape but the day surface structure. If such changes are critical, this leads to changing of landscape type. This is the difference of my position from other modern authors. It should mark the position of S. Daniels and D. Cosgrove that “landscape is a cultural image, a pictorial way of representing, structuring or symbolising” [Daniels, Cosgrove, 2007].
I want to draw attention of geographers on wonderful book of T. Ingold “Being Alive” in which he writes the following: “What I have to say regarding my third theme follows from this. In conventional accounts of the historical transformation of nature, the landscape tends to be regarded as a material surface that has been sequentially shaped and reshaped, over time, through the imprint of one scheme of mental representations after another, each reshaping covering over or obliterating the one before. The landscape surface is thus supposed to present itself as a palimpsest for the inscription of cultural form. My argument suggests, to the contrary, that the forms of the landscape – like the identities and capacities of its human inhabitants – are not imposed upon a material substrate but rather emerge as condensations or crystallisations of activity within a relational field” [Ingold, 2011: 47]. And further: “Medieval shapers of the land were not painters but farmers, whose purpose was not to render the material world in appearance rather than substance, but to wrest a living from the earth. Shape, for them, was as intrinsic to the constitution of the land as is weave to the constitution of cloth. Just as cloth is woven from the intertwined threads of warp and weft, so, in medieval times, the land was scaped by the people who, with foot, axe and plough, and with the assistance of their domestic animals, trod, hacked and scratched their lines into the earth, and thereby created its ever-evolving texture” [Ingold, 2011: 126]. In the very interesting dissertation K. Lindström writes: “for languages that were out of the direct influence of the Flemish landscape painting at the time of its birth, the words designating landscape are often consciously modeled after the Romanic or Germanic words and carry strong pictoral connotations, despite similar semantic structures (‘land’ + suffix, indication abstraction)” [Lindström, 2011: 10].
It is one of the most intricate questions to interpret the variety of day (not interred) surface structure and their link with landscape. This is tied up with the presence of different interpretations of the term “landscape”. My viewpoint is that there are many natural processes which shape the day surface. Such appearance is known as paternization – some process of forming of day surface structure perceived by us as a landscape. Just a tangible day surface is appearing as palimpsest. This is well visible on the seashore: every subsequent wave destroys some traces of the previous wave’ traces and forms its own one (Fig. 1). It is the material surface that acts as a palimpsest. Now we can say that the landscape is a unity of terrain features, its pattern formed in our consciousness, and its interpretation affects the way people change the material environment. But exactly in this way the structure of the day surface is changed by natural processes. This requires consideration of the concept of "pattern".
What is the meaning of the term “pattern”? This term implies the presence of some orderliness in disposition or sequence of things that make it possible to percept, memorize and recall it. It is necessary to say that meanings are associated not with words that are only symbols but with the patterns: “Pattern is a composite of traits or features characteristic of an individual” [Gutierrez-Osuna], “Patterns are regularities in data from a specified source” [Bennett, 2003]. It is obvious that these patterns are immersed in a somewhat unstructured environment and can be revealed by observers as a set of differences. These distinctions can be assembled in a figure, a picture, or a pattern, different one for each of the observers. Thus a pattern is the organization of perceived distinctions. It is obvious that these patterns are immersed in a somewhat amorphous environment and can be revealed by observers as a set of differences. Each pattern assumes the presence of a process or regime that leads to its occurrence. So, a pattern is an organization of perceived differences. Therefore, “a pattern is an entity that can be given a name” [Belanche, Nebot, 2001/2002]. Due to the common features these figures can be classified. Nowadays, there is already extensive literature on the processes leading to the emergence of patterned surfaces. The following are very interesting: «Self-Organization of Sorted Patterned Ground» [Kessler, Werner, 2003], «Self-Organized Patchiness and Catastrophic Shifts in Ecosystems» [Rietkerk, Dekker, De Ruiter, Van de Koppel, 2004], «Using power-laws as indicator of salt-marsh ecosystem status and development» [Van Belzen, 2010], «Sorted Patterned Ground» [Feuilleta, Certinib, Ugolini, 2014] so on. Let`s consider some examples.
Abiotic level. On the abiotic level have some clear examples named as “patterned ground” (for instance [Van Belzen, 2010]). Fig. 2 demonstrates the structure of small polygons composed. Patterned ground defines as "... symmetrical surface patterns such as polygons, stripes, and circles, characteristic of, but not confined to soils subject to intensive frost action" [Dictionary of Geologic Terms]. H.F. Gilman shows that “researchers have been reluctant to use the term when describing features which occur outside areas of intensive frost action, especially when such features are observed in warm, dry environments” [Gilman, 1986, p. 81]. It is called “gilgai features”. This author considers the mechanism of such figures appearance, but I think that other polygonal forms of different origins can also be categorized as "patterned lands", for instance, drying crazing (Fig. 3), solifluction terraces on the slopes (Fig. 4) and many other variants.
Figure 2. The small polygonal formations. The measuring tape (5 cm wide) gives an indication of their size. The photograph was taken on Bathurst Island, Nunavut, Canada. (CT) [Van Belzen, 2010].
Fig. 3 (left): drying crazing (author’s photo); Fig. 4 (right): solifluction polygons in Volcha valley, Kharkiv oblast (photo M. Shevchenko).
Biotized level. On the biotized level we have some interesting instances now. The good example is Great Barrier Reef (Fig. 5). Peatland is the other instance [Eppinga, de Ruiter, Wassen, Rietkerk, 2009], as well as in shallow aquatic conditions [Larsen, Harvey, 2011], and for many other situations. For heterogeneous conditions - soil patch size, plant size, resource input and resource availability vegetation patterns are among the most striking landscape-scale patterns and have been observed in a variety of ecosystems. For instance, E. Sheffer with coauthors gives the interesting relation of vegetation patchiness in rock–soil domains of increasing soil-patch size (Fig. 6) [Sheffer, Hardenberg, Von Yizhaq, Shachak, Meron, 2012].
Fig. 5. Pattern of Great Barrier Reef (the frame from the film “Home: meeting with the planet”). – URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxLVXpFunvI
Fig. 6. Vegetation patchiness in rock–soil domains of increasing soil-patch size (a–e, successively increasing in area by a factor 1.2) and increasing plant-patch size (A–D), obtained as solutions of the Gilad et al. (2007) model. The circles represent soil patches that act as sinks for run-off produced by the surrounding rock areas. Small plant-patch sizes lead to highly variable self-organised patchiness (A). As plant-patch size increases, the patchiness becomes more template dictated (B, C, and D). Parameters: P = 310 (kg m-2) year-1, K = 1 kg m-2, Q = 0.05 kg m-2, M = 6 year-1, A = 40 year-1, N = 6 year-1, E = 0, Λ = 0.064 (kg m-2) year-1, Γ = 8 (kg m-2) year-1, R = 0.95, f = 0.1, S0 = 0.05, DW = 0.0625 m-2 year-1, DH = ∞, DB = 6.25*10-4m2 year-1, L = 16 m. The root-zone sizes and the seed dispersal coefficients are scaled as S0n = cnS0 and DBn = cn2 DB, with cn = 1, 3, 5, 8 for species n = 1…4 (rows A–D) [Sheffer, Hardenberg, von Yizhaq, Shachak, Meron, 2012].
V. Rai's work «Spatial Ecology: Patterns and Processes» [Rai, 2013] is quite interesting. But I cannot agree with some of the author's ideas. Yes, he writes about the process in time, although the presence of the process allows you to introduce the concept of time. This also applies to the concept of "space". Yes, he writes: «Space is a limiting resource» [Rai, 2013: 65], but space is not a resource, but an environment in which processes unfold, and this environment is diverse, which allows us to introduce the concept of «space». But in the models space and time are present as parameters.
In excellent work J. van Belzen has shown salt-marsh ecosystem status and development using power-laws as indicator (fig. 7) [Belzen, 2010].
Fig. 7. (A) Examples of regular spatial patterns in (a) coral reef near Australia, (b) peatlands in Siberia, and (c) tiger bush in Nigeria (from Google maps). (B) Scale-dependent feedback from Spartina sp. at the mudflat result in dome shaped tussocks and gullies (after van Wesenbeeck, et al., 2008). (C) Changes in regular spatial patterns could point to changes in environmental conditions like resource input (e.g. average annual rainfall) and potentially indicate proximity to a catastrophic shift (from Rietkerk, et al., 2004). [Belzen, 2010]
Antropotized level. Thanks to a variety of human activities at the antropotized level we have many different forms of day surface modification. The most expressive of such figures are the gardens, which have always been an ideal of order. But to what extent does the concept of landscape apply to such rigidly ordered surface variations? Here, the frequency spectrum is represented by only one harmonic. Terraced slopes are a more interesting example (fig. 8). But the most vivid traces of human activities are in the city. Here the deviation from the original structure is most pronounced. On Fig. 9 Dubai is the unsurpassed instance of urban culture: this is a unique pattern.
Fig. 8. Pattern of terracing (the frame from the film “Home: meeting with the planet”). URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxLVXpFunvI
Fig. 9. Dubai is the unsurpassed instance of urban culture (the frame from the film “Home: meeting with the planet”).
We exist in a complex environment, which we try to organize, which allows us to navigate and act purposefully. This is achieved through the formation of patterns in our consciousness. But the environment itself is also to some extent organized by the action of many processes, which lead to the emergence of a certain order in it. We call this process patternization. This is most pronounced in the structure of the day (visible) surface, which allows us to highlight areas with a certain type of ordering. The perception of such areas (areas) - the surface of the steppe, savannah, glacier, river valley, village, city, etc. leads to the formation in our minds of a holistic image - a pattern, which is the landscape. Thus, we organize our perception of the environment into a set of patterns, which simplifies the orientation in the environment.
Landscape is process not object.
Merriam Webster OnLine dictionary –
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Ingold T. Being Alive. Essays on movement, knowledge and description. First published by Routledge, 2011. – 270 p. –
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