Tierra Plastica

The name of this proposal is Tierra Plastica as it is concerned with the plastic properties of the land.  The name is indicative of a conceptual and methodological approach, as well as the geo-physical space.  The words are in Spanish because the location is Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Tierra:  The term “tierra” means land in a broad, Nerudian sense– homeland, motherland- and the closest translation is probably “earth” with a small “e”.  It includes the clay, the silt, the garbage, the rivers, the seeds, microbes, buildings, vehicles and fossils in this great swirl around us.  It is something which must be defined as it is contingent and contested (what is the mother or fatherland after all, and what is the differenc?).  Despite this ambiguity, you know it when you see it.  This fact places emphasis on the importance of defining the problem.

Plastica:  This definition of the term draws from the Spanish-language category “artes plasticas”- the “plastic arts”, which exist alongside the literary arts, musical arts, or performing arts.  Landscape design can be fit into or span any number of these categories.  Within this category you typically find practices such as painting, sculpture, photography, and drawing, as well as graphic arts and industrial arts (ceramics, for instance).  This understanding of landscape practice as a plastic art does away with the distinction that many try to place between historical landscape practice and the current emphasis on process.  Some principles of the artes plasticas include figure/background, image, perception, proportion, point, line, plane, movement, sketching, tone, and hierarchy.  The active and provisional nature of this artistic practice- sculpting, sketching, erasing, framing- belies the processes which go in to the making of the objects.  The spanish-language emphasis on the plastic rather than the visual characteristics of this creative practice is more appropriate to this project and the landscape instrumentalism approach in general.

The artes plasticas of the Tiwanaku on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca around the 5th century bce; these people created a capital city that was purposefully always under construction or destruction so as to impress surrounding polities and peoples with their industriousness and the forms and signs of progress. A lot like New York City of our age!

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