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e s s a y p h o t o Language in the Landscape By Daniel M. Olsen The rural Southwest provides a place for landscape to wordlessly tell stories, reveal history, and offer solace. A few hours spent “listening” to this landscape reminds us that our spoken and written languages are human constructs. But in the age of information, where spoken and written language reign, the landscape slowly but steadily loses its apparent significance for those whose lives are not directly connected to the land. We become, in effect, deaf to the ways in which the land communicates. Ranch gates are a physical manifestation of language interjected 28 t e x a s a r c h i t e c t into landscape, that is, language in the act of naming – of claiming – the land. In his novel The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy questions the relationship between landscape and language: “The world has no name, he said. The names of the cerros and the sierras and the deserts exist only on maps. We name them so that we do not lose our way. Yet it was because the way was lost to us already that we have made those names. The world cannot be lost. We are the ones. And it is because these names and these coordinates are our own naming that they 5 / 6 2 0 0 9

Texas Architect May/June 2009: Art Venues

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