It’s been a while since I came to Australia and there’s not been alot of posts, but I’m back (if the digital realm conforms to spatial metaphors). I arrived in Sydney about four months ago and stayed there for 4 days. I didn’t like Sydney that much, the Opera House and harbour were nice but generally it is quite a bland, generic western city (apparently one of the reasons it was used in the Matrix). Being more of a countryside person this may be to be expected but I did quite like Melbourne which I visited recently and shall be returning to soon. The one particular thing I noticed about Sydney (unlike most modern European cities) was the lack of churches. Possibly it was just the lack of older buildings, churches being the most obvious representations of this. Oh yes and Sydney introduced me to the Australian phenomenon of hideously annoying pedestrian crossing sirens. These are only my immediate impressions as I rapidly departed for Albury, a country city (sic), on the banks of the River Murray.
I’ve been working on a bypass section of the Hume Highway which connects Sydney to Melbourne. A walkover survey was previously conducted for the collection and recording of Indigenous artefacts. In this area of New South Wales the huge majority of these are made of quartz and consist of knapped cores and flakes with a few blades of chert and the occasional pieces of hammerstone. The areas identified are referred to as ‘Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Sites’. An anthropological survey, with local elders, was also undertaken which sought ‘Aboriginal Cultural Sites’ which, I understand, are known from social memory and were avoided by the highway expansion.
The Aboriginal cultural heritage sites were generally found on spurs of land jutting into the floodplain of small creeks, all on post-contact cleared farmland used for grazing. We dug 1m² squares at 15m intervals along 5m offset staggered transects down to Pleistocene clay deposits which mark the beginning of local human habitation. This was done by professional archaeologists and an equal number of Aboriginal cultural representatives, reps, who ‘have an interest in the heritage of the area’. The test pits were dug by hand in bulk, initally, with all the excavated material sieved with water and the artefacts found kept, given a basic analysis and counted. The pits with larger than average, amounts of quartz flakes, cores and debitage, for that site, were enlarged 1m² at a time and in spits determined by the depth of the underlying clays, these were referred to as ‘open areas’. The length of time spent increasing the sizes of open areas was not dependent on declining numbers of artefacts but on the time allocated to each site.
This project finished last week, and to be honest I was rather glad. Everyone I worked with was friendly, but the lack of features was disappointing especially after the novelty of digging metre square holes in fields wore off. I did learn more about stone artefacts which previously I knew little about and my sections, previously ok, have have improved to an almost ridiculous degree. I may come back with some gripes about the methodology later but am currently travelling about Tasmania in a campervan and it’s dinner time. The next post should not be so long in the writing, thanks loyal readers!
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So another new page for The Sheffield Environs Landscape Project is up, using a map, go and check it out ‘ShELP, another view from above‘.
Using Open Street Map (OSM) was an obvious choice, for the ethics behind open source software and the usage of the data, but it also lead me to a few thoughts about how Tim Ingold (2007) thinks about maps as I’m reading ‘Lines: A Brief History’ at the moment.
For Ingold the lines on a map create a network of points which the surveyor has created from their appropriaton of space as they transport themselves and their equipment from survey station to survey station. This creation of maps since the early modern period has distanced people from a thorough embedded knowledge of the world (ibid.: 80-89).
However, when creating the OSM map one wanders(wonders?) about the world as she/he goes. They are not transported along, point to point but move in a series of traces more akin to wayfaring. Through doing this they more fully inhabit their world as they may stop to look at something interesting or to speak to someone. Because this bodily gesture, movement, is automatically recorded on a GPS it frees the OSM creator to ‘walk, listen and feel as they go’ (ibid.: 78). The inaccuracy of a mapping level GPS comes in handy here, if you’d like to pop over the road to look in a shop window but are keen to create a representation of the street you’re on it doesn’t really matter as 10m here or there probably won’t matter, thus further emphasising the embodied manner of mapmaking with OSM.
This changes Ingold’s argument; since the final product of an OSM and, for example, a 1:50,000 urban OS map will be very similar can he make such judgements to how people ‘read’ a map? If the OSM creator is creating his meshwork of inhabited places why is that not what the map reader is digesting as they follow the map around? Surely they’ll not be blindly counting their steps in scale with the map, they’ll be looking and thinking about how the map relates to the place they’re in, the same way as the mapmaker when creating the OSM. Thus if the map is the same and the reader of the map uses it in a similar way, the method of creation is not as important as Ingold states; maps can be more than ‘points cutting across the world’.
Open Street Map available at http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Main_Page
Ingold, T. 2007. Lines: A Brief History. London: Routledge.
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As some of you may have noticed there’s been a bit of snow about in the last few days. Apart form looking rather nice, and being able to have snowball fights in it also loosens everyone up a bit. A man helped me push my car out of the road and I made a rather witty remark about another man’s dog being a bit like a husky. These events couldn’t have happened without the medium of snow, I don’t generally see life as being environmentally determined but…
As I was strolling about yesterday I saw some views like the one above. The snow can change the way we see things, indeed it can hide boundaries. The above photo shows how it is hard to differentiate the road from the pavement. This reminded me of the work of Hans Monderman the Dutch traffic safety officer who invented the idea of the ‘naked street’ and ‘shared spaces’.
These are counterintuitive approaches to road and pedestrian safety. Instead of using signs and barriers Monderman removed them, kerbs and traffic lights from certain areas of urban centres. His belief is that if people aren’t told exactly what to do in a slightly dangerous situation they act more cautiously, are more observant and rely on mutual respect. Drivers and pedestrians then act in a more aware way; their behaviour is reflexive and self-determined rather than impinged on them by the state.
This has been tried out at inner city junctions which carry 20,000 cars a day, speeds are generally slower, and accidents have dropped where Monderman’s designs are used. He boasted that there had never been a fatality in one of his shared spaces. As an example of how safe his theories were he would often hold his hands behind him and walk backwards into a busy street, the cars and bikes would just start moving around him with no screeching of brakes or irate road ragers!
These ideas have been used across Europe now, Kensington High Street is now a shared space and more are planned in Britain. Hans Monderman died last year but helped lots of others carrying on living and has made people rethink their ideas on safety/rationality and use of urban landscapes.
Philosophy of European Shared Space – http://www.shared-space.org/
Hans Monderman Obituary – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article3167372.ece
Life on the Open Road – http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/apr/12/communities.guardiansocietysupplement
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Posted in Theory, tagged GIS, taskscape on November 27, 2008 |
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I found this diagram in a paper in an edition of Internet Archaeology ( http://intarch.ac.uk.eresources.shef.ac.uk/journal/issue16/5/toc.html ) entitled ‘Time and Experience: Taskscapes within GIS’ by Doortje Van Hove.
The author gives a rather gentle introduction into phenomenology within the first couple of pages of the article and how this gives us a better understanding of the daily life of the past. Then the problems of GIS as giving a static, ahistorical picture of an area in the past are recounted. Van Hove aims to use Ingold’s taskscape within GIS to overcome the shortcomings and synthesize these two methodologies to create a powerful more encompassing model from them.
Van Doortje does not seem to get the main point of the taskscape theory. It has to start with an embodied experience of place, this can’t exist before we go there, geogphically and more importantly mentally and geographically, and so is unlikely to exist in the CPU of a computer. Indeed using the flow diagram above removes us further from the evidence and creates if anything a less humanised, more processual reading. This is because by just entering some criteria into a computerised ‘phenomenological’ system will not give you an automatic reconstruction/experience of how past folk dwelled in their environment.
Perhaps when there is a more sensory encompassing use of computer modelling we might be able to use it to help theorise ancient landscapes but this will take a site by site particularisation and a nuanced approach and not the dry plugging in of elements to produce a generalised, systemic representation of the past.
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Posted in Theory on November 12, 2008 |
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The word landscape is very rich in meanings, and probably due to its origins is full of different senses. In other languages we may find different meanings, and again it evokes origins that are distant in time.
What we bring up today is the ‘academic’ definitions of the English term.
Extracted from the Oxford English Dictionary these are the definitions proposed:
1. a. A picture representing natural inland scenery, as distinguished from a sea picture, a portrait, etc.
1603 SYLVESTER Du Bartas
I. vii. 13 The cunning Painter..Limning a Land-scape, various, rich, and rare. 1605 B. JONSON Masque Blackness
Wks. (1616) 893 First, for the Scene, was drawne a Landtschap
, consisting of small woods. 16..
A. GIBSON L’Envoy
in Guillim’s Heraldry
(1660), As in a curious Lant-schape, oft we see Nature, so follow’d, as we think it’s she. 1683 DRYDEN Life Plutarch
Ded. 18 Let this part of the landschape be cast into shadows that the heightnings of the other may appear more beautiful. 1821 CRAIG Lect. Drawing
v. 271 If..you paint your landscapes in oil-colours. 1841-4 EMERSON Ess., Art
Wks. (Bohn) I. 145 In landscapes, the painter should give the suggestion of a fairer creation than we know. 1899
L. CUST in Nat. Gallery Brit. Art
8 The landscapes exhibited on this occasion by Constable.
The background of scenery in a portrait or figure-painting. Obs.c.
1c. Also as adv.
2. a. A view or prospect of natural inland scenery, such as can be taken in at a glance from one point of view; a piece of country scenery.
b. A tract of land with its distinguishing characteristics and features, esp. considered as a product of modifying or shaping processes and agents (usually natural).
3. In generalized sense (from 1 and 2): Inland natural scenery, or its representation in painting.
4. In various transf. and fig. uses. a. A view, prospect of something.
b. A distant prospect: a vista. (Cf. 2b.)
c. The object of one’s gaze.
d. A sketch, adumbration, outline; occas. a faint or shadowy representation.
e. A compendium, epitome.
f. A bird’s-eye view; a plan, sketch, map.
g. The depiction or description of something in words.
h. Other transf. and fig. uses.
, as landscape art
; landscape architect
, a practitioner of landscape architecture; landscape architecture
, the planning of parks or gardens to form an attractive landscape, often in association with the design of buildings, roads, etc.; landscape-gardening
, the art of laying out grounds so as to produce the effect of natural scenery; so landscape-garden
, (also as vb.) -gardener
; landscape lens
, a lens used in photographing landscape; landscape marble
, a variety of marble which shows dendritic markings resembling shrubbery or trees; landscape mirror
, = CLAUDE LORRAINE GLASS
, one who paints landscapes, a landscapist; so landscape-painting
, a landscapist.
We can discuss (if you want) the reasons for the name and why view and land are privileged in the definitions. However, it is interesting to note that ‘picture’ is a word that comes up frequently when talking about the landscape. Diverse authors have talked about our representation of the world as a picture (e.g. Merleau-Ponty) but it depends on our personal definition the fact of seeing the landscape as something holistic (as we can see in the definitions) or restrict our ‘view’ like in a picture.
What is landscape? Good point to start with.
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Sight has been privileged in landscape studies since its very beginning; we should think to that as a consequence of our first approach to landscape and as a result of the different theorisations about it.
Reacting to the preeminence of viewing authors like Cosgrove, Daniels, Ingold… have tried to change our understanding of landscape and the methods we use in its study.
Mlekuz’s article about soundscapes could be understood in this sense of encouraging ‘new ways of approaching landscapes’. Which is the role of hearing in our view of landscape? Which is the importance of that in interpreting past societies from their remains?
The example we bring up today is very useful for discussion in two aspects:a methodological one, Which is the role of GIS unravelling landscapes? and a more theoretical aspect, what perspectives do we privilege in our study of landscape? which is the point on adding as much sense as possible?
Churches in Polhograjsko hribovje (Slovenia). A digital model of acoustic space
The article is published in Internet Archaeology 16, 2004.
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