A Cross Reading of Landscape through Digital Landscape Models: The Case of Southern Garda

A Cross Reading of Landscape through Digital Landscape Models: The Case of Southern Garda

Ilaria Forti (Università Iuav di Venezia, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0675-1.ch018
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The paper illustrates the results of a research project entitled “Landscape Information: new tools and methodologies for the representation of the landscape.” The case study selected for this research on the many aspects of the landscape is the vast territory included in the municipalities facing the Lake Garda, a significant example of “territory-landscape”, where different environmental characteristics meet, and through dynamic processes of interaction and transformation were generated specific natural and social forms. The innovative outcome of the research is to be found mainly in the methods of observation and representation defined and used, in order to get to the synthesis of an observation and cataloging system continuously queryable and implementable, accessible through simple and common interfaces, based upon the DLM. Its goal is to lay the foundations for the creation of a virtual strategic space where preservation and transformation processes will be activated, a platform easily accessible to different users, thus allowing a plural and inclusive vision of the landscape.
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The Difficult Search For A Shared Definition

The term landscape has gained a central role in the cultural debate of our time, until becoming a widely recognized notion, while being at the same time also a very elusive one. Michael Jakob (2009) suggests this fact by naming a chapter of his book A Landscape is a Landscape is a Landscape... Similarly, paraphrasing Benedetto Croce, to the question what is landscape, it could be answered: it is what everybody knows it to be1. This is not an immutable concept, but the product of a cultural elaboration, influenced in particular by the tension in contemporary times between the poles of the artificial and the natural. The landscape is in fact the subject of study of various disciplines – from aesthetics to natural sciences – and is one of the key themes around which the contemporary debate about architecture and urbanism is centered.

It is precisely to the aesthetic dimension of landscape that refers Georg Simmel (1913) in his essay Philosophy of Landscape. The German philosopher and sociologist wrote:

This seems to me to be happening when someone shapes a field of apperception into the category of 'landscape': a self-contained perception intuited as a self sufficient unity, which is nevertheless intermeshed with an infinite expansiveness and a continual flux. It is contained within boundaries that do not apply to the intimation of the oneness of God, the wholeness of nature, which continuously re-shapes and dissolves the self-imposed boundaries of a given landscape. Torn away and standing on its own, a landscape is permeated by an opaque awareness of this infinite interconnectedness.

There is no doubt that the concept of landscape constitutes one of the critical nodes in the relationship between man and nature, and the modification over the centuries of nature itself. When confronting with landscape, both from the theoretical reflection and the linguistic practice point of view, a number of foundational paradoxes emerge, related to the fact that landscape defies easy and quick attempts of measurement and identification, as well as the fact that being it neither place, nor country nor site, it poses serious questions of representation (Jakob, 2009; 27).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Accessibility: The quality of being easily reached, universally grasped or appreciated.

Ethics: The discipline that deals with moral principles.

Representation: The description or portrayal of something, or someone, through a codified visual language.

Observation: The process of closely observing and noticing things, monitoring both general aspects and significant details.

Identity: The qualities defining what something or someone is.

Environment: The whole world, or a particular region, where plants, animals and humans live.

Participation: The practice of actively taking part in something.

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