Various ways

In his remarkable essay The Beholding Eye, D. W. Meinig explores an extended definition of landscape through an analysis of the various ways in which we view landscape and the complexities of the human relation to it. He crystallizes how the landscape is freighted with competing views:

… there are those who look out upon that variegated scene and see landscape as …

Nature: amidst all this man is minuscule, superficial, ephemeral, subordinate

Habitat: what we see before us is man continuously working at a viable relationship with nature

Artifact: the earth is a platform, but all thereon is furnished with man’s effects so extensively that you cannot find a scrap of pristine nature

System: such a mind sees a river not as a river, but as a link in the hydrologic circuit

Problem: the evidence looms in almost any view: eroded hills, flooding rivers, shattered woods

Wealth: the eyes of an appraiser, assigning a monetary value to everything in view

Ideology: the whole scene as a symbol of values, the governing ideas, the underlying philosophies of a culture

History: a complex cumulative record of nature and man

Place: every landscape is a locality, an individual piece in the infinitely varied mosaic of the earth

Aesthetic: that there is something close to the essence, of beauty and truth, in the landscape.

Landscape, then, has powerful physical, environmental, economic, cultural, psychological and aesthetic components.

John Hopkins, Music-makers and the dreamers of dreams (2005)


Gillis van den Vliete, Villa d’Este Garden’s Diana of Ephesus (1568)