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Mapping ruderality: Heading for design


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Christmas , S 2011 , 'Mapping ruderality: Heading for design ', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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A newly acquired property in the Tamar Valley prompted the research, Mapping ruderality:
heading for design. With ownership comes a natural inclination to make change, to imprint
one’s mark on the land. In order to inform decision‐making and to maximize understanding
of this new place called home, my research maps the cultural and natural phenomena of the
site and its surrounds as a direct response to prevailing concerns. Working at the interface
of art and design, one informs the other, setting the conditions for change.
Although the focus is on a particular parcel of land – a ruderal landscape of dilapidated
timber sheds and rampant blackberries, neglected for many years since its pioneering,
productive past – the modus operandi (mapping and hermeneutics) may be applied more
generally. Inspired, in part, by landscape architect James Corner, hermeneutics is presented
as a means to counter the demise of substantive landscape design. The evolving art of
mapping, from navigation to conceptualisation, is considered through its complementary
parts – scale, projection, triangulation, toponomy, grids. Together, mapping and
hermeneutics interpret the microcosm of the former orchard and its extended relationships
in the valley.
Traditional cartography has influenced the method which often presents as
phenomenological or absorptive mapping. Hermeneutic enquiry allows for open
interpretation, for an understanding of the whole by reference to its individual parts, and
vice versa. Overall, the works constitute a ‘bringing to attention’ of site conditions, which
we are compelled to modify and control (owning, naming, limiting, exploiting). The process
is informed predominantly by the works of Janet Laurence, Maya Lin, Fujiko Nakaya, Anne
Wilson and Julie Mehretu, all of whom offer new readings of landscape as an expression of
ideas and a way into design.
An alternative cartographic practice which infuses rational, detached observation with the
subjectivity of experience takes cues from the ruderal state to engage with current issues in
land use and design, and augments the tradition of map‐making in place‐making. Graticules
and rhumb lines of individual works converge in a larger exploratory grid to reveal the
distortions, biases, influences and ambiguities that are inherent in the project of mapping.
Together hermeneutics and mapping locate the research specifically here, and, at a remove,
should be comprehended as (anywhere) there.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Christmas , S
Keywords: mapping, ruderality, design, landscape art
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