2018 / Central Park, New York. Critics: Cathryn Dwyre, Evan Tribus, and Alex Pierre de Looz. In collaboration with Chafiq Ennaoui.
Central Park was designed in the Picturesque style, which in favoring nature that is stable, maintained, and subservient over that which resists control and categorization prompted an extensive re-work of the park’s native landscape. Originally an irregular terrain of swamps and cliffs, the site of Central Park was a “Wasteland,” a landscape requiring “purification” to make way for “civilized space.” Its natures, perceived as derelict and visceral were to be subdued, as the park was redesigned into a linear succession of events and clear boundaries. Condensing the landscape into a painterly diagram, out of historical inclinations of fear and disgust towards the mutable and indeterminate, Central Park’s design outdatedly posits the physical, uncontrolled environment as a societal threat. Central Park desperately requires an update, one that reconsiders its ecologies as the synthesis of nature and culture, acting as a single organism.
Through an emphasis of the dynamic and changing properties of the park’s communities and ecosystems, this new ecological paradigm will simulate a terrain of local adaptation, appropriation, and flexibility, which may be guided to a state of relative stability – and only just. The focus is not to radicalize ecology, as we are not ecologists, but to revive its ability to radicalize social space as a reflexive medium. As a future, neo-picturesque interaction (picturesque constituting the way ecological material is administered), Central Park shall serve as a catalytic framework of structured heterogeneity, enabling a landscape of diverse, response-based activity.
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