Trove of desert images found in the USC Digital LIbrary in the California Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960.
Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), iconic and charismatic plants of California, are frequently the subject of desert photography. In this small selection, the yucca share the spotlight with humans.
The word oasis conjures visions of palm trees; pure, refreshing springs; olives and dates; the heady fragrance of citrus and jasmine - scent memories of beautiful times and places; camels; and the colorful tents of nomadic tribes. Perhaps this list is based on romantic notions of distant topoi, such as the Silk Road, imagined by this Northern-dweller. Your list of associations will be different than mine, I am sure.
Oasis evokes a peripheral lexicon of words that shelter one from difficult circumstances, if only as metaphor, such as island, sanctuary, paradise, refugia, and utopia. Mirage, a related term, is not necessarily an hallucination (as the optical effects are real), but is no more useful than a dream or a vision, without the tangible benefits of an oasis.
Technically, oasis is defined as a fertile spot in an otherwise barren region. The isolated area of vegetation is fostered by the presence of a natural occurrence of water in an arid zone, either from a rare surfacing of a subterranean water source or from a geology that has the ability to retain moisture, unlike the surrounding sands.
An oasis can be real or illusory, a place that provides all that is fundamental for survival, nourishing both the physical and the spiritual. The mere utterance of the word sounds like a sigh of relief or ecstasy—OASIS—coupling an exclamation (O) with an exhalation (ahs).
Nancy Seaton, Miranda Pierce, Clare Al-Witri, Khyati Saraf, Anne Eastman, Amanda Friedman, Marie Warsh, KB Jones, Eri Yamagata, Meghan T. Ray, Melissa Gorman, Sophia Warsh, Ana Coccioletti, Lisa DuRussel, Diana Gruberg, Laura Harmon, Wayne Morris, Matilde Nardelli & Bernadette Mayer
images and books depicting or related to oases.
A thin crust of soil and vegetation clad the earth’s bedrock. Rarely seen in New York City, except in the a few dramatic outcrops that remain, stone lies beneath everything. In other places, the magnitude of the mineral world is revealed where roads have been carved through hillsides, in cliffs such as the Palisades and in the sublime mountainous landscapes of the West, the Alps, and the Himalayas. Stone appears to be stable, inert, but is in a constant state of metamorphosis. These changes occur on multiple time scales: incomprehensibly vast periods that extend to billions of years, cataclysmic events that interrupt and disturb longer cycles, and daily geomorphic weathering. Bedrock is folded, lifted up, penetrated by jets of magma, and is pushed under to become molten, undifferentiated mineral stew. Rock is eroding, shedding layers, oxidizing, reacting to various exposures and proximities, often breaking into smaller pieces.
Individual stones have been prized for their color, shape and crystalline structure; rough, dull exteriors can belie gemiferous interior troves. Some rocks are renown for their musical resonance, such as the Lingbi scholars’ rocks; others have been mined and mapped for economic resource extraction. The mineral component of our landscapes determines what will grow, effecting pH and nutrient availability, how light is reflected and absorbed, and more obviously determines the natural topography upon which we trod.
As with our previous issues, the topic has inspired a range of interpretations. Stonewalls, cabinets of precious gems, stones that are more animal than mineral (bezoars) or stones that are carved to appear more stony (French rocaille work), maps of mineral deposits, pictures, odes and exposition on the history of situating rock strata are some of the topics discussed and realized for OUTCROP.
Nancy Seaton, Marie Warsh, Hsieh Ling Yun, Kate Papacosma, Chris Patch, Meghan T.Ray, David Howell, Charlie Howe, Jill Desimini, DJ Savarese, Diana Gruberg, Greg Owens, Hans Baumann, Clark Coolidge, Dave Tomkins, Alyssa Gorelick, Wayne Morris, Margaret Gisia Mosiej, Bernadette Mayer, Sophia Warsh, Laura Harmon, Jeffrey Schiff
Sacred and Profane:
I walked the rows of NYC's necropolis, Calvary I, the air perfumed with saccharine vanilla - possibly from the neighboring Wonton Food Inc., on Bradley Avenue. here was a faint undertone of diesel fuel from any number of source - including the entrance ramp to the LIE and the automotive repair shops that line this section of Greenpoint Avenue. Angel-topped monuments and shrouded columns foreground an iconic view of Manhattan's skyline to the west. Turn around and you are confronted with the flow of traffic over the BQE's Kosciusko Bridge, the silver digesters of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the refineries that have slowly leaked oil into the neighborhood for decades. These adjacencies exude a rough vitality and a matter-of-fact disregard of the buried and the handful that mourn. Cemeteries and the unsightly infrastructures that serve the city's inhabitants collide in uncomfortable, ironic and inappropriate ways along the once forsaken edges of the outer boroughs. Yet the inscriptions, such as Adeline, Leonard, Celia, Beloved Son, papa, and sister transcend the often-banal periphery, fostering intimacy with these former, fellow New Yorkers.
As many of us move deeper into the outer boroughs, we are confronted with cemeteries, landscapes originally characterized in part by their geographical remoteness, built on hills overlooking a distant city that has been gradually encroaching ever since. For some of us (the editors) these spaces have become our local parks. The interactions between a cemetery and the city, as described above, has inspired this third issue of Prospect.
The word “necropolis,” is typically used to describe larger and often ancient cemeteries, defined as a city of the dead. This NECROPOLIS explores the cemetery, focusing on its meaning and experience as a landscape. Projects search to understand how cemeteries or burial grounds inform our relationships to history and place and ways that they present such an enormity and mystery as death. While it’s clear that the need for places to bury and honor the dead has shaped the landscape for centuries, even millennia, it is less clear how these landscapes have shaped us.
Marie Warsh, Nancy Seaton, Wayne Morris, Brendan Lorber, Seldon Yuan, Brenda Coultas, Zenobia Meckley, Ethan Fischer, Anni Peller, Tam Ochiai, Steven Bopp, Ginny Cook, Meghan T. Ray, Max Hooper Schneider, Greg Owens, Marco Wilkinson
"To build, to plant, whatever you intend,
To rear the column, or the arch to bend,
To swell the terrace, or to sink the grot;
In all, let Nature never be forgot.
But treat the goddess like a modest fair,
Nor overdress, nor leave her wholly bare;
Let not each beauty ev'rywhere be spied,
Where half the skill is decently to hide.
He gains all points, who pleasingly confounds,
Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.
Consult the genius of the place in all;
That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;
Or helps th' ambitious hill the heav'ns to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;
Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
Now breaks, or now directs, th' intending lines;
Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs."
- Alexander Pope, "An Epistle to the Right Honourable Richard, Earl of Burlington" 1731
Alexander Pope’s invocation to “consult the genius of the place” still informs our thinking about the relationship between design and landscape. The second issue of Prospect, entitled “Sited,” explores what it means to be site-specific, and how we engage with a site through its history, temporal and sensual qualities, and catalog of biological and physical components.
Rosemary Mayer, Marie Warsh, Hans Baumann, Charlie Howe, Nancy Seaton, Marie Lorenz, Anne O'Neill, Ruth Rae, Zac Ward, Laura Harmon, Daniela de Sola, Meghan T. Ray, Kate Papacosma, Wayne Morris, Max Warsh
WILDERNESS (from the OED):
Old English wildēornes 'land inhabited only by wild animals', from wild dēor 'wild deer' + ness
1. a. (without article) Wild or uncultivated land.
1. b. (with article or other defining word) A wild or uncultivated region or tract of land, uninhabited, or inhabited only by wild animals; ‘a tract of solitude and savageness’ (Johnson).
1. c. A piece of ground in a large garden or park, planted with trees, and laid out in an ornamental or fantastic style, often in the form of a maze or labyrinth.
2. A waste or desolate region of any kind, e.g. of open sea, of air.
3. fig. a. Something figured as a region of a wild or desolate character, or in which one wanders or loses one's way; in religious use applied to the present world or life as contrasted with heaven or the future life
3. b. Rhetorically applied to a place (e.g. a building or town) which one finds ‘desolate’, or in which one is lonely or ‘lost’.
3. c. in the wilderness (in allusion to Numbers xiv. 33), (a) of a politician, political party, etc.: out of office; (b) gen. unrecognized, out of favour.
4. A mingled, confused, or vast assemblage or collection of persons or things. (Usually coloured by other senses; in reference to a growth of plants, nearly coinciding with 1b; in reference to buildings, etc., often approaching 3b.)
5. a. Wildness, uncultivated condition. Obs.
5. b. fig. Wildness of character, licentiousness. Obs. nonce-use.
As we were reminded by a friend the other day, the word wilderness has become almost valueless in its plurality of meanings and contemporary usage, much like the word nature or 'scape. That said, we still believe that wilderness can invoke particular places, stories, visions and ideas. Perhaps.
Marie Warsh, Nancy Seaton, Johanna Bauman, John Moore, Beverly Bailis, Meghan T. Ray, Erik de Jong, Ray Daniels, Hilary Angelo, Marcel Parrilla, Harry Birckmayer, Anni Peller, Peter DelTredici, Jill Desimini, Hans Baumann, Jiayu Qin, Wayne Morris, Sophia Warsh, Emily Schroeder, David Buckley Bordern, Celine Lombardi, Uli Lorimer, Charlie Howe, Bernadette Mayer, Philip Good, Greg Owens, Terri Harrison, Libby Barnes, Marco Wilkinson
A collective of designers who meet monthly.
Members are encouraged to challenge conventional modes of representation through the use of physical models while exploring the temporal qualities of landscape.
Short selection of dioramas by members: Eri Yamagata, Ana Coccioletti, Cecil Howell, Lisa DuRussel, Laura Harmon, Diana Gruberg, Olivia Kaufman, Khyati Saraf & Nancy Seaton.
OCTOBER 15, 2016
A celebration of the infamous waters of the Gowanus. Participants joined our fleet, drifting on high tide under a full moon on October 15th! Choreographed to synchronize with Gowanus Open Studios. Allegiance to art was shown by taking to the water, commemorating the historic dredging, cleaning and capping of the Canal!
In collaboration with: Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Arts Gowanus, The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, Cecil Howell, Nancy Seaton & Peter Reich.
A motion-activated wildlife camera trained on a beaver dam, 20 minutes from an urban center.