Skip to Main Content

Timothy Morton Masterclass (October 10, 2019)41:39

After Daniel Tovar’s introduction, Timothy Morton proposes that at a moment when humans are transitioning to caring about nonhumans in a new way, landscape architecture is both impossible and all-too possible. He argues that up to now landscape architecture has been “a weirdly impossible – therefore violent when attempted – effort to airbrush non-human beings out of the landscape picture, even when they’re included.”

He maintains that the contemporary world is “Mesopotamia 6.0”, i.e. “a logistics executed blindly for 12,000 years … that expresses an implicit logic that expresses an implicit ontology”, i.e., “the idea that the world is blank screen for human desire-projection purposes.”

After a discussion of the concept of tragedy, Aristotle and Kant, Morton frames the question, “How to escape from Mesopotamia, 12,000 years too late?” To which he proposes,”First things first. Let’s start with the ontology part: No more hidden functioning. No more logistics covering over logic, covering over ontology. From now on we’re going to be having – whether we like it or not – more explicit conversations about being, what being it, what it means to be a thing, what it’s like to be this thing rather than that thing, …”

Morton sees correlationism as hard wired into current landscape architecture, as in concepts of the picturesque, yūgen, and consumerism. Instead of “human beings shaping a landscape that has already been rendered as a thing to be shaped”, he proposes, “the things objectified as landscape actually doing some architecture on us, designing us.”

He affirms that this approach implies awareness of different – non-human – time-scales. “Realizing that there are lots of different temporality formats is basically what ecological awareness is. It’s equivalent to acknowledging, in a deep way, the existence of beings that aren’t you, with whom you coexist.”

Which, he argues, creates the possibility of a subsendent beauty that is “wild, spectral, haunting, irreducible, uncanny, and causal”.

From the Media ArchiveMedia archive link