Instrumentality as a material practice is interested in the ways that operating tools engaged with the landscape medium can generate the conditions for recreation and industry. For field research this project is undertaking two studies of wildly different scales- the operation of earthmovers and backhoes for constructing a strip mall next to the suburban office headquarters at the Northrop Grunman facility on highway 29 near Charlottesville, Virginia, and pruning a hedge with a pair of Felco pruning shears. The method here is one of collage; aligning and overlaying a photo series, with some transparency, and color focus on the major operable parts that seems to be forming spaces, altering the material, changing the behavior of adjacent humans- in short, making landscape. These images are then overlaid with a layer of data- dimensions and lists- which are more typically reserved for the spatial orthographic drawings such as plan and section. The intent is to lend some specificity and immediacy to the operation of the tools visibly at work. Backhoe excavation at the Northrop Grunman facility:
Felco pruners on carpinus carolinia:
These instances of instrumentality as a material practice are representative examples meant to examine activities operating at different economic, expertise, and spatial scales: the operation of backhoes and construction of commercial research facilities are typically considered industrial operations, whereas the use of felco pruners are usually a maintenance or recreational activity. The working of these tools lends an immediacy and agency to the inhabitants of the landscape- it is a form of actualized potential. The confrontation between material and tool creates views, establishes safety zones, demarcates areas for working and walking, and generates new habitats and materials.
conclusion: Two facts germane to a working theory of landscape instrumentalism immediately spring to the fore through this study- 1) the engagement of machines, tools, and implements can create and generate landscape; framing views, making micro-topographies, habitats, new forms, and 2) the disparate scales must immediately be grappled with. Our representational technique seemed interesting when dealing with a large landscape in general stasis, but when the landscape was a single tree canopy and small scale tool moving all over the place the effect is nauseating.