This project comes to us from Max Hooper Schneider, a graduating landscape architecture student at the Harvard GSD. The thesis behind Max’s project is quite simple, and something that many landscape architects have been struggling with as of late: “in the last two decades there has been a call to expand and reinvent understandings of landscape and landscape architecture under the influence of theoretical and practical concerns arising both inside and outside the discipline.” There has been pressure to do this in an architectonic manner, however Max’s project chooses to address this overarching question from an elemental level. Though there are many ways of getting at this issue, I agree that understanding the bodily relationship with landscape is essential to the practice, and much can be gleaned from the natural world in that respect. From Max’s exhibition:
In service of this goal, The Monist Kingdom series adopts the materialist philosophy of Benedict Spinoza (1632-77): everything that exists is composed of a single substance, matter, and all matter is ‘alive.’ Bodies across all kingdoms of classification, as a plurality of diversely formed matters—plants, animals, minerals, machines, buildings, landscapes, and so forth—act and are acted upon, their mutual modulations constituting what is. From this perspective questions of landscape and aesthetics are transformed into physical questions: i.e., knowing what a particular body is capable of and how particular bodies combine in beneficial or destructive mixtures through their positive and negative encounters. In landscape architecture what matters, the only thing that matters, is how bodies interact with and transform one another.