Caspar David Friedrich, The wanderer above the sea of fog (1818)

The problem of landscape arises precisely because landscape, whether it appears in literary or painterly form, whether thought of in terms of the presented or that which presents, is indeed a function, and a representing, of our relationship with place. Is the term “landscape” inadequate to describe the complexity of that relationship? If we treat landscape purely in terms of the narrowly spectatorial and the detached (or as associated with a single historical formation or artistic genre), then perhaps it is. Yet the argument I have advanced here is that this conception of landscape is itself inadequate to describe the complexity of landscape as such. The problem of landscape is thus that landscape represents to us, not only our relationship with place, but also the problematic nature of that relationship—a relationship that contains within it involvement and separation, agency and spectacle, self and other. It is in and through landscape, in its many forms, that our relationship with place is articulated and represented, and the problematic character of that relationship made evident.

Edward S. Casey, The Edge(s) of Landscape: A Study in Liminology (2011)




Where does a landscape begin —and where does it end? Which is to say: Where is its edge? We are tempted to think that landscapes just go on and on indefinitely—one vista giving way to another, one stretch of land blending into the next. And if this is the case, is not any attempt to deter-mine, even to imagine, an edge, an act of human hubris?

More pointedly: Does a landscape have any edge other than an arbitrary one?

Edward Casey, The Edge(s) of Landscape: A Study in Liminology (2011)

Snøhetta, Path of Perspectives (2018)


Place Memory

“We all come to know each other by asking for accounts. by giving accounts and by believing or disbelieving stories about each other’: pests and identities.” writes Paul Connerton in How Societies Remember. Social memory relies on story-telling, but what specialists call place memory can be used to help trigger social memory through the urban landscape. “Place memory” is philosopher Edward S. Casey’s formulation: “It is the stabilizing persistence of place as a container of experiences that contributes so powerfully to its intrinsic memorability. An alert and alive memory connects spontaneously with place. Ending in it features that favor and parallel its own activities. We might even any that memory is naturally place-oriented or at least place—supported.” Place memory encapsulates the human ability to connect with both the built and natural environments that are entwined in the cultural landscape. It is the key to the power of historic places to help citizens define their public pasts: places trigger memories for insiders, who have shared a common past and at the same time place often can represent shared pasts to outsiders who might be interested in knowing about them in the present.

Place memory is so strong that many different cultures have used “memory palaces” —sequences of imaginary spaces within an imaginary landscape or building or series of buildings— as mnemonic devices.

Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place (1995)





 WES Landscape Architecture, Esterwegen Memorial (2011)