I’m now going to look at a brief history of the term, landscape, was still in the conceptual framework. Let’s look at the word landscape itself. I know it’s very much a Western word. And this explains why the word comes from old German, landskipe or landscaef, also landscap and landschaft.
German settlers took the word to England in about 500 AD, and eventually it became landscape few hundred years later. Originally, it meant a clearing in the forest where the small farms with animals and people who sent essentially a peasant landscape. So, the term cultural landscape has always meant it is associated with people. In Latin, it comes from the Latin word Pagus, and the French word pays and paysage, comes from this, campagne deriving from champagne, meaning a countryside of fields. Cultural in furs inhabited active being linked to the Latin word colere or culture, which means to inhabit, to cultivate, not just by farming, but to cultivate mentally as well, to protect, to honor.
From this idea, all these ideas came that German word Kulturlandschaft , which you see here.
What to draw your attention to these three descriptions, if you like, of landscape. J.B. Jackson, who was writing in the 1960s and 70s in America. He said the old landscape, the old fashioned, but rather surprisingly persistent definition of a landscape, is a portion of the earth’s surface that can be comprehended at a glance. Look at it, you start to understand what you see. He also said a rich and beautiful book is always open before us, we have but to learn to read it. And we talk of reading the landscape, looking at it, reading it, and understanding it. W. G.
Hoskins, an English historian, he asserted the significance of landscape in his book, The Making of the English Landscape, with the proposal that the landscape itself, to those who know how to read it aright is the richest historical record we possess. David Lowenthal, and this is my favorite. He said it is the landscape as a whole - that largely man-made tapestry, in which all other artifacts are embedded, which gives them their sense of place. It’s the landscape in which everything here, which gives them their overall sense of place.
Now there are equally Chinese definitions of landscape. And I would urge you to go to the books and look at them, and you will see similarities to this sort of description. What they were all contending, these three authors? From the modern foundation for landscape study, this is where landscape is not looked on simply as a pretty picture or as a static text. Rather, it’s the expression of landscape as cultural process. The connections, therefore between landscape identity and hence memory thought a comprehension, a fundamental to understanding landscape and the human sense of place.
People see and make landscapes as a result of their shared system of beliefs and ideologies. In this way, landscape is a cultural construct, a mirror of our memories and myths encoded with meanings which can be read and interpreted. Landscape, therefore, is defined by our vision, but interpreted by our minds. We look and then we start to interpret what we see. And this is one of the fascinating things about landscape study.
Another way of seeing landscape
is through paintings, both in western and eastern cultures.
And Western art, since the Renaissance, the 17th century has focused substantially on the train landscape reality. You see these dutch paintings here, here, right there painting actual landscapes, those landscapes existed. They were ordinary, everyday landscapes. This one painted by this French, Claude Lorrain, very famous, 17th century landscape painter. He painted landscapes in Italy. And these paintings, along with writings, spurred the English to go to Europe, or what was known as the ground tour to see these places. This would have been topographical correct. Then in this landscape, he puts people, and animals, both mythical people and real people. Then in the middle ground, usually water, and then some ancient ruins and buildings, then in the background, sublime nature.
Now these places did exist. They didn’t look like that. But these pages turned these landscapes into what we call a picturesque, the idea of landscape, and people like them. So in England, people 50 years later started to turn their estates to look like this, the big parks, the 18th century parks of England. You have two Chinese pictures, I have to say, I have to admit, this is my favorite landscape painting in the world. I think it’s one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen. The last time I saw the original in the museum at Shanghai a few years ago, when there was a display of Chinese landscape paintings.
And you knew where it was, because the crowds were six deep trying to look at it. It’s only small on silk, and it’s a scholar in his garden viewing plum blossom by moonlight. Here is this individual interaction with the landscape. So in contrast, Eastern landscape art has also focused more on imaginary landscapes, that this is imagine.
Scholars did have gardens. So in effect in Chinese art and literature, what you have is a deconstruction of material nature which expressed its spiritual side. Appearances became less important. And paintings became more abstract and symbolic.
So Chinese depictions of nature cultivated landscapes, not farmer cultivated, they looked on as being part of your cultural memory. There were expressions of the mind and the heart rather than the real world. And proceeded in this one. It’s a real scene, but this fantastic rendition of the studying Chinese landscape, and it reflects the hauntingly beautiful shapes seen in Chinese landscapes. Why do this landscape? Here’s a boat, and it’s brought a group of people and they’re walking through this landscape up to a refuge up here. So there are interacting with the landscape, being in the landscape and enjoying it. Despite of the differences, I think there’s a similarity between both landscape art forms, Eastern and Western.
Both art forms represent subjective notions of an ideal, perhaps elusive nature, and we see landscape.