I’ve been wondering for a long time: How big is a landscape? The global health crisis we are going through has confined us to our homes, but that doesn’t mean we no longer perceive and live in relation to the landscape. Proof of this are the results of the call “The landscape through my window” – which is reviewed in this same Observatory newsletter – in which we received 412 illustrated reflections on confinement, views from 31 countries. The quarantine allowed me to reflect on it, ask more questions and find possible answers:
What is the distance between two landscapes? The length of a straight line between the domestic landscape and the working landscape, for example, those that are the result of the field of work and that of residence – even more so in times of online existence, where almost everything is confined to domestic living. And if, in short, the landscape is not in the physical space itself, it emerges from its perception, even from memory. Distance is a physical quantity – of length or time interval – so it does not fit the landscape. It will only be possible to find a certain relation of distance by the distance or remote perception of some territory that refers to a landscape. And also, you can find distance in the difference in appearance or physiognomy, in the character of two or more landscapes.
What is the exact area of a landscape? How can we tell if it does not recognize its own borders, limits or terms or the political or legal ones, those that fragment the territory. Nor does it have surface accuracy in square metres that separates it and distinguishes it from what it is not, simply because it lacks a geometric figure with length and width. In any case, the surface in landscape dimension may be qualitative, because there is a certain notion of extension in terms of large or small – macro, meso or micro landscapes – as the collective imaginary of the Latin American landscape, through the scale of the Argentinian landscape and arriving at my own intimate home landscape in my city of Cordoba.
What is the measure of the landscape in three dimensions? What space could a landscape occupy if it really lacks a body? How to determine the amount of soil and sky it occupies? It is impossible to establish the total amount of the substance that constitutes it, simply because it is not composed of matter, because the landscape is immaterial. Although it becomes three-dimensional space with magnitude and substance, it loses its length, width and height as an object of human and therefore personal interpretation, like conception, arrangement or conceptual expression, of the external reality of the one who perceives, “…at the moment he becomes aware of it” (Naselli, 1992, p. 26). How to recognize its corpulence if, moreover, as in a set of matryoshka dolls, there is an ideal of landscapes within landscapes, as objects within objects at the same time, which distorts the laws of physics.
How much does a landscape weigh? If it is weightless, ethereal, and vague, it is only subject to the force of human attraction. It levitates in the minds of its inhabitants, in the neural systems, in the creative memory that often represents it, recreates or reinvents it and even designs it. In any case, there can only be the weight of guilt for mutilating, attacking or devastating the resources – natural and cultural – of the land, which make the spirit and meaning of each landscape. On the other hand, note that peso (weight) – in many countries – is the monetary unit that the landscape produces when it is recognized, valued, and managed. And weight is what some landscapes demand to balance the scales and obtain landscape sustainability with economic development, quality of life and the right to a good landscape.
For a while I’ve been answering myself that the landscape, unlike the territory, has no measure, it is immeasurable, it is within me and within you. Everything around us – both tangible and intangible – makes the landscape emerge within us.
Bibliographic reference: Naselli, C. A. (1992). De ciudades, formas y paisajes. Paraguay: Arquna.