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land scape architecture

the uncanny garden Prof. Antonio di Campli

USAC, Turin, 25 june 2012

The uncanny feeling of alienation and anxiety, inside the home and in the urban space, has a story, which begins simultaneously with the concept of landscape, in the late eighteenth century and was consolidated in the next century. In the literature, the theme of restlessness and obscure in everyday life is beginning to be explored by writers like Poe and Hoffmann. Freud and Lacan, after them, treated this argument by the psychoanalytic point of view. And it is the Freudian notion of the uncanny to be the focus Yves Brunier’s garden design experience. Thee uncanny is traced back to an underlying insecurity: that of a recent formation class, the bourgeoisie, which “still did not feel safe at home”. John Fowles in The French Lieutenant’s Woman speaks of the bourgeoisie as the only class conscious of its inadequacy, but because of this it is fertile. The uncanny is the archetype of bourgeois fears, halfway between the quest for material security and the pleasure of terror. For Benjamin, this feeling was a result of the formation of metropolitan cities, of the appearance of the teeming crowds and unprecedented proportions assumed by the urban spaces.

If the uncanny in the eighteenth century was referring to the space inside the home, at the end of the nineteenth century, its territory was still inside: that of the mind, with the symptoms of spatial and temporal fear. In both cases the uncanny emerged, according to Freud, the transformation of something familiar into something different, something removed that reappears. In this “mechanism”, says de Certeau in History and Psychoanalysis, “if the past is removed, it will return - but in a surreptitious form. [...]. In more general terms, every autonomous order is defined producing a “residual element” condemned to oblivion. But what is excluded creeps back into this of “pure” place makeing illusory the sensation of this being at “home”, it hides inside in the house. The “uncanny”, as the sublime, then is a concept that cannot be rationally defined, which denotes not an entity but as an expression of a subjective feeling, of a fracture, a division, or a doubling of subjectivity.

“The space is the place of the work of art, but it is not enough to say that it takes place in it, deals with it depending on its needs, defines it, and even creates it as it is necessary to it. The space where life moves about is an element to which it submits, the space of art is plastic anch changing matter�. Henri Focillon

Yves Brunier (1962-1991) The Uncanny Garden

There can be no doubt that Yves Brunier belonged to the family of storytellers and myth makers. He was one of those people whose ambition is to refashion the world by using a



His manner resided in the evocative power of images and the power of persuasion of the narrative organizing those images, a nd thus offering a renewed vision of the world. The storyteller, who draws from the treasure trove of representational media, and musters them to help woth the technique of narration, thereby plays a throughly creative role, for the very logic of the forms and matter assembled brings into play new dimensions, and unprecedented figures, which enlessly redraw the imaginary space. This, in turn, wields its influence, to borrow Focillon’s metaphor, like a “inverted mould which imposes a new value/on the three dimensional space” …

Infuriatingly bad colour schemes; brutal forms covered with tin foil; bright paint: technical props and crude materials like foam, rubber, plastic, Q-tips, wire, textiles screws etcetersa symbolising building and landscape; all threwed together in what seemes great anguish and haste. His models wer flashy, funny, utterly day-glow and somehow fashionable in the way he used colour schemes and materials in that seemingly arbitrary and impulsive manner. But, in fact, everything was carefully positioned and choses; the atmosphere of visual shock somehow communicated the serious information an architectural model requires with refined precision.

Space, light, time, action. He integrated the language of space, viewlines, perspective, scale, history, context, construction, volume, circulation into his illustration techniques. He really sculpted the future for them. Models were about sensation, colour, light, feeling, atmosphere. More than architecture, landscape architecture is a prediction. Whereas architecture describes a stable state, landscape architecture triggers literally endless scenarios of life and death, rebirth, transformations, mutations. He had realised that the loneliness of the office, the expression of ideas through drawings, would allow only the blossoming of a form which would stand fast against the principle of reality, and that such a method did not suit his art in which spaces are not drawn but narrated. Once established the concept, that is of a cognitive reflexive and logical nature, it finds material expression through a narrative, it has to be given a structure. The narrating of it becomes a dream, and this is when it must be depicted, given shape, made to appear, offered up to existence. The less familiar it is, the harder it will be to represent, hence the images taken drawn from the flux of society’s everyday output, which, given unfamiliar and uncanny meaning, offer innovative visions of garden design. An approach to space through its meaning rather that its form. His collages and drawings always contained an element of violence, aggression and impatience.

Portrait d’Ambroise Vollard, Picasso, 1909 DAVID HOCKNEY « Le cubisme est affaire de perception et de représentation du réel. La plupart des distinctions en art, comme l’abstrait opposé au figuratif, me paraissent fausses. Il y a très peu de conflits en art qui, selon moi, valent la peine, à l’exception d’un seul : le désir de représenter. Le désir de représenter est très fort en nous, très profond, et il refuse à disparaître. (…) Nous représentons le monde, afin de mieux comprendre. » D. Hockney

Sun on the pool, D. Hockney, 1982

Scriptwriting For Yves Brunier what is viable for film also appies to landscape architecture.

Museumpark, Rotterdam, 1990 The site is a sort of obbligatory passageway linking the city centre to the big Euromast park, a panoramic tower. The idea of differing and even extreme sensations combined with a walk thru park has taken form in a sequence, a cavalcade of complementary spaces. The zoning into 4 segments is so defined: 1. supple, mineral treatment in white gravel expands the space of the street while an Arboretum of apple trees whit white-washed trunks creates a welcoming feeling. These familiar fruit trees instil rhythm, their trunks scale down the existing poplars whose trunks are also white-washed; the neighbouring giants are thus signals too, giant candles. 2 This overexposed and misty space is duplicated to infinity in the stainless steel wall of the background. Here a podium with its surface coating of black asphalt waiting to serve travelling shows. This black base is a far cry from the vaporous apple trees orchard and stands out against the existing white hawthorn and the rose garden in front of the museum. A functional network grid gives substance, as well as, confetti patches of vegetation: black bamboo, osier in fluo yellow, a curtain of monumental and weepinf sequoias (tree-animal). 3. A ramp gives access to zone 3 which is on one side is the result of an abandoned park with beautiful trees, and on the other of retreed fallow, a twisting canal, a pond, an island, and very old open air theatre. 4. This is the open spacein front of the Kunsthal, half-lawn and half-paving. A simple treatment for the services and lige of the expo hall, at once an open space and terrace. The park extends into the building by a moss and bamboo rampo that leads up to the terrace roof.

The theme of the “double” has been very thoroughly treated by Otto Rank (1914). He has gone into the connections which the “double” has with reflections in mirrors, with shadows, with guardian spirits, with the belief in the soul and with the fear of death; but he also lets in a flood of light on the surprising evolution of the idea. For the ‘double’ was originally an insurance against the destruction of the ego, an ‘energetic denial of the power of death’, as Rank says; and probably the ‘immortal’ soul was the first “double” of the body.... Such ideas...have sprung from the soil of unbounded self-love, from the primary narcissism which dominates the mind of the child and of primitive man. But when this stage has been surmounted, the “double” reverses its aspect. From having been an assurance of immortality, it becomes the uncanny harbinger of death...The “double” has become a thing of terror, just as, after the collapse of their religion the gods turned into demons.

the uncanny garden  

the uncanny garden