Archive for July, 2013

Contrast is the primary way we perceive the world. Without seeing something’s opposite, the thing being observed is imperceptible. From studies in color theory to research in how people physically sense the world, contrast is critical to our experience of the world. For example, our body only becomes aware of ambient temperature by a marked change in temperature. It is the change itself that triggers our proprieceptors. Or take the eye which registers objects either by a change in the quality of light on the surface of one thing or by the comparison of light hitting two adjacent objects differently.

A line in landscape is the point of contrast to natural forms and to the elements. And so a stagnant line is performative. Meaning aside, it is a datum, a marker, a point of contrast, a perceptual cue. It allows us to register form, depth, age, color, texture. A line is perhaps one the of the greatest quantifiers of all time, yet its ability to measure quality is profound. Is this perhaps why humans have been so intent on making lines in the natural landscape for our entire existence? They create a sharp register not only of what exists, but of our existence. 

(Note: this blog entry is reprinted with permission from  Samantha Dabney from Shepards Grove.)  


Beach Line by the author, Point Reyes seashore, California
River Lines follow contour lines, American River, California, by the author




Mountain Lines in progress also follow contour lines, reducing erosion, American River, California by the author



Images from human lines in landscape from past civilizations to present. Below are the remarkable Nazca Linesin Peru whose purpose is still debated: lines to be noticed by the gods, celestial navigation markers, constellation renderings, UFO runways, and on…


Nazca Lines, Representational
source: Martin St-Amant, Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Earth artists of the mid-20th century used line at geologic scale. Here, Michael Heizer‘s Double Negative at Mormon Mesa, Nevada, about which the artist said, “There is nothing there, yet it is still a sculpture.” We continue to be obsessed with this work and other great landforming line works of human civilization.


Double Negative
source link



Aerial view of Double Negative
source: Michael Heizer, World Art Web Kiosk



Double Negative from the ground
Or Agnes Denes’ Tree Mountain – A Living Time Capsule, a reconstructed and reforested mountain at the Pinziö gravel pits near Ylöjärvi, Finland:
Source: Agnes Denes
Here, images not of ancient settlements, but of the ephemeral Black Rock City that is created and destroyed annually at the Burningman event in Nevada:

From art to quotidienne, we draw lines in everyday landscapes for purpose and efficiency. Here maple syrup tap lines criss cross the woods of the American Northeast:



Maple Syrup Tap Lines, Vermont
Source: Ron Hay Photoraphy 2010, flickr

© Shepard’s Grove  2013