The Changing Meaning of Landscape

«… we must acknowledge not only that landscapes do not stand apart from human activity but that every landscape is a human artifact. Whether framed by a camera, cultivated as farmland, conserved as a nature reserve, or preserved as so-called wilderness, every landscape is identified and chosen by humans, and embodies and displays the effects of human action. […] Once we understand how the human presence imports values into the landscape, environment becomes rich with normative significance, for environment is suffused with a full range of values in relation to human activities.»

Arnold Berleant, ‘The Changing Meaning of Landscape’, Aesthetics beyond the Arts: New and Recent Essays, 2012

«For many years I had sought and written about the wildness encountered in the more expected places: the rarefied national park, the desolate moor, the distant mountaintop, the sweeping coast, but I’d forgotten that there is something deeper about the blurry space surrounding us all where human and nature meet. One word stayed with me: layers. Even before I’d started the process of investigating it in any depth I was aware that this edge-land was a crossing point where countless histories lay buried. There were its human narratives, the records of our long tangling with land – colonisation, hunting, farming, war, industry and urbanisation – but these were only part of the story. Enmeshed in every urban edge is also the continuous narrative of the subsistence of nature, pragmatic and prosaic, the million things that survive and even thrive in the fringes. This little patch of common ground was precisely that: common. And all the richer for it.»

Rob Cowen, ‘Prologue’, Common Ground, 2015