The Universe in the Landscape: Landforms by Charles Jencks

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9780711232341: The Universe in the Landscape: Landforms by Charles Jencks

Landforms are a fast-developing art form that enjoy a wide following today, because of their multiple uses and their enveloping beauty. As formal landscapes that often arise from necessity - recycling a coal site for human use or making new use of excess earth - they are a pleasure to walk over and through. In this collection of his recent work, Charles Jencks explains his particular approach to the landform. Like the prehistoric earthworks of Britain that have been an inspiration, such as Stonehenge, his landforms contain cosmic symbolism, and they draw together sculpture, epigraphy, water, gardens, scrap metal and architecture. They address perennial themes - identity, patterns of nature, death and the power of life - but in a contemporary way, based on the insights of science. So Jencks portrays universal aspects of DNA, the spacetime warp of a black hole, the extraordinary way cells divide and unite and some basic forms of life. Other designs include sharp comments on recent events: a water garden of war in France critiques the 2003 invasion of Iraq using 'waterpults' and 'hose-guns' among other interactive features; a white garden made from birch trees, flying bones and computer graphics deals with some fatal consequences of modernity. Jencks addresses, with wit and irony, some of the strange possibilities that arise with extra-large landforms. Northumberlandia, perhaps the largest human figure ever made, presents the question of which body parts one can walk on safely, which are dangerous and which need to be suppressed. What became perhaps the heaviest work of art in the world, at 20 million tons, was also the opportunity to transform a large open-cast mine into a dynamic landscape of giant mounds and sculpted lakes. As in his The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, to which this book is a sequel, Jencks seeks to define a new landscape iconography based on forms and themes that may be eternal, in the sense that they crystallise nature's laws, some of which have been recently discovered. To see a world in a grain of sand was a poetic quest of William Blake and, in a different sense, to find the universe in a ritual landscape was a goal of prehistoric cultures. Jencks allies these spiritual affinities with the view of science that stresses the common patterns that underlie all parts of the cosmos, thus making them like our home planet, and the universe in a landscape.

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Recensione:

"Charles Jencks has an astonishing ability to create landscape forms that are at once beautiful in themselves and imbued with complex and cosmic layers of meaning." Sir Mark Jones, Director, Victoria & Albert Museum

"By single-handedly reinvigorating the British tradition of landform, Charles Jencks has made a sublimely elegant contribution to landscape architecture worldwide. This comprehensive survey of work completed during the past decade compellingly illustrates the way the scientific and cosmological underpinnings of his work is increasingly complemented by content derived from ritualistic and spiritual traditions. Jencks's landscapes are now as redolent of standing stones as they are of quarks and black holes." Tim Richardson, landscape critic/historian



[Charles Jencks is] "One of the most ambitious and radical artists of our time, a man who works not in paint, bronze or even video but in earth and clay."

(Andrew Marr on Radio 4 Start the Week)

An astonishingly rich book.

( Country Life)

His natural, self-effacing writing style makes it impossible not to warm to him.

( Scotsman)

The extraordinary architect-thinker Charles Jencks has just published a beautiful, stimulating book about his richly symbolic 'landforms'. I can't quite think what Alan Titchmarsh might make of them, but they do stand - or grow - in a long line of cerebral land designs.

( Independent)

Big in scope: nothing less than the cosmos, plus the inner workings of Jencks's formidable mind. He is a master of synthesis, bringing in ideas from diversse cultural and scientific realms. The book is like a little slice of his brain.

( Blueprint)

A fascinating document of this land artist's work.

( Venue)

Whatever else one can say about Jencks, his work certainly provokes - as great art should.

( BBC Gardens Illustrated)

An exciting new source of inspiration.

( Daily Telegraph)

Explains the inspirations behind his recent landforms. All are designed to be stimulating and beautiful, and to convey a message, often scientific or philosophical, that relates to the locality. If in previous centuries gardeners attempted to display Nature in all her variety, Jencks proposes the whole universe as his theme; yet there is much here of practical importance too.

( Art Newspaper)

We need someone like Jencks to challenge our familiarity with the landscape.

( Garden Design Journal)

Aimed at the intellectually curious who see gardens as a place to make conceptual ideas into 3-D living forms rather than at those who see gardens as a repository for their favourite plants. The lavishly illustrated text is thought provoking and informative, offeringa peek inside his brain. The author is a master synthesiser, bringing in ideas from diverse cultural and scientific realms. That all readers will like the aesthetics of his gardens is unlikely but, given the rarified nature of its content, most will find this book a surprisingly enjoyable read.

( Garden)

'a wide-ranging, rigorous and witty exposition of the work of a major contemporary artist.'  

 

  • 'a wide-ran g ing, rigorous and witty exposition of the work of a major contemporary artist.' Green Letters: Study in Eco-criticism. Garry MacKenzie
( Green Letters: Study in Eco-criticism)

Recensione:

By single-handedly reinvigorating the British tradition of landform, Charles Jencks has made a sublimely elegant contribution to landscape architecture worldwide. This comprehensive survey of work completed during the past decade compellingly illustrates the way the scientific and cosmological underpinnings of his work is increasingly complemented by content derived from ritualistic and spiritual traditions. Jencks's landscapes are now as redolent of standing stones as they are of quarks and black holes. --Tim Richardson, landscape critic/historian

Back to the blockbuster with this stupendous volume - an exciting new source of inspiration. --The Daily Telegraph

Charles Jencks has an astonishing ability to create landscape forms that are at once beautiful in themselves and imbued with complex and cosmic layers of meaning. --Sir Mark Jones, Director, Victoria & Albert Museum

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Jencks, Charles
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