Marc Wilson & Patrick Sykes: The Last Stand

Timing is everything in Marc Wilson’s photographs. “You maybe get ten minutes,” he says, “before the sun has come up above the horizon but you have some light, a very soft grey and blue.” The landscapes he shoots are similarly precarious. Wilson’s series The Last Stand documents the remains of coastal fortifications that lined Northern Europe during the Second World War — bunkers swallowed by the sea, pillboxes barely clinging to land, buildings ripped from their foundations and wrecked on the rocks — from Allied positions on England’s east coast and the far tip of the Northern Isles, to the once German-occupied archipelago of the Channel Islands and the remains of the Atlantikwall, the colossal Nazi defense network which stretched from Norway to Spain.

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The series draws attention to places that were once vital to world affairs and have since been left to ruin, their histories obscured or forcibly erased. One photograph, taken in Wissant, France, depicts a bunker that was later declared a safety hazard and demolished by the local government. Wilson is adamant that the sites should be left untouched. He understands the desire to break with the past, he says, “but if you start removing all the physical reminders, then we’ll have no history left. I don’t think they should be preserved as such, but they need to be protected from a secondary human interaction. That natural process of time is important.”

That protective impulse is evident in his compositions. In addition to the early-morning light, which flattens out any dramatic shadows, Wilson’s preference for using a large format camera helps to naturalize the elements in the frame. More importantly, the fortifications are always framed in their surroundings: they are never abstracted as pure architecture, and there are no interior views. After selecting a subject, he says, “I’d try and get as far back from it as I could, so I could see it as much within its environment as possible, then walk back towards it until I’d found the right composition where the object sat in the landscape.” At Arromanches les bains, Normandy — heart of the D-Day landings — he stood further back, “to show more respect.”

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Wilson’s images invite the viewer to revisit the scene and plot the traces between the built and unbuilt elements, quietly posing the question of what took place there. The line between natural and unnatural — already camouflaged by architects who designed the defenses to blend in with the landscape — has been progressively blurred over time, and Wilson’s photographs are studies of buildings that have taken on features of their surroundings: a forest bunker in Lossiemouth, Scotland, is overrun by dappled moss; a pillbox in nearby Findhorn is invaded by algae; the bricks of an outpost at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, England, are weathered by a sea that does not discriminate between the fortification and the rock on which it stands. Perhaps most troubling is the possibility that it was all for nothing. Borders will be drawn, defended and abandoned for as long as human conflict exists, but the passage of time, as revealed in nature’s slow, disinterested advance, renders the effort to defend them insignificant.

We talk about the ethics of aestheticizing decay. Is there not a risk in making something beautiful out of something terrible? “If someone photographs something that’s decaying for purely visual reasons then I don’t see the point of it,” Wilson says, “because you’re ignoring the history of the place, and if anything is ruined or abandoned then there’s always going to be a history to it.” His aim, rather, is to produce “constant, never-changing visual triggers” — stills only in the photographic sense — which evoke a larger history.

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When Paul Virilio walked sections of the Atlantikwall for his book Bunker Archaeology(1994), he noted a fundamental shift in military design. Until World War II, he wrote, “Fortifications had always been oriented toward a specific, staked-out objective: the defense of a passageway, a pass, steps, valleys, or ports.” Along the Atlantikwall, however, “You could walk day after day along the seaside and never once lose sight of these concrete altars built to face the void of the oceanic horizon. The immensity of this project is what defies common sense; total war was revealed here in mythic dimension.” Wilson’s photographs play on the pathos of this mythic dimension. Fixed, monolithic, but without solid foundation, many of his concrete altars face at least half a frame of empty expanse — sea or sky. They have been left behind by the war they waged — yet their melancholy watch continues.

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The shifting landscape can impede that lookout only temporarily. Should the bunkers become submerged in water or subsumed by sand, Wilson says, “They’ll always be there; we just won’t have access to them. And in twenty, thirty years, they may reappear, as the water levels go down, as the sand dunes shift. So you could have these bits of memory and history constantly peeking out again and then disappearing — a beautiful idea.”

— Patrick Sykes

 

http://places.designobserver.com/feature/the-last-stand-photographs-by-marc-wilson/38304/

WS3 _Design Input

After the end of our second three-day Design Input Workshop, with FrédéricRossano, the MAS LA student team had a presentation about the Final Synthesis projects, with Christof Girot and the rest of the teaching team. The diversity of the projects was very interesting and the feedback from the teaching team was extremely helpfull.

So lets continue the hard work till July!

Sofia Prifti, Jacqueline Frizi

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Mohamed Abdel Wahab

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Argyro Theodoropoulou, Angelos Komninos

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Maki Hasegawa, Gebhard Merk

Slide15     Slide22      Slide20

Gaganjit Singh

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Alexandre Roulin, George Sarmaniotis

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In Landscapes Photography

Today, photographer Petros Koublis, presents this magnificent work called “In Landscapes” where nature takes on a dimension of peace with a beauty frozen in time. Almost all of these pictures were taken just 50 kms from Athens to highlight the timeless face of Greek political decline beauty. Photographs of breathtaking beauty to discover below.

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http://www.fubiz.net/en/2014/02/26/in-landscapes-photography/

Patricia Johanson

(Born September 8, 1940, New York City)

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Patricia Johanson is known for her large-scale art projects that create aesthetic and practical habitats for humans and wildlife. She designs her functional art projects, created with and in the natural Landscape, to solve infrastructure and environmental problems, but also to reconnect city-dwellers with nature and with the history of a place. Johanson’s work has also been classified as Land Art, Site-specific Art and Garden Art.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_Johanson)

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 “Johanson’s designs for sewers, parks, and other functional projects not only speak to deep human needs for beauty, culture, and historical memory. She also answers to the needs of birds, insects, fish, animals, and microorganisms. Her art reclaims degraded ecologies and creates conditions that permit endangered species to thrive in the middle of urban centers…. Using the structures of nature as a way of thinking, she reconciles delicacy with strength, generosity with power, and creativity with consequence.”
http://patriciajohanson.com/

The Houtan River Park in Shanghai

by Turenscape

Built on a brownfield of a former industrial site, Houtan Park is a regenerative living landscape on Shanghai’s Huangpu riverfront. The park’s constructed wetland, ecological flood control, reclaimed industrial structures and materials, and urban agriculture are integral components of an overall restorative design strategy to treat polluted river water and recover the degraded waterfront in an aesthetically pleasing way.

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Cheonggyecheon River Park in Seoul

Cheonggyecheon ( 청계천) is an 8.4 km long, modern public recreation space in downtown Seoul, South Korea. The massive urban renewal project is on the site of a stream that flowed before the rapid post-war economic development required it to be covered by  transportation ifrastructure. The project initially attracted much public criticism but, after opening in 2005, has become popular among city residents.

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Riverscape Area at Letten, Zurich

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“The magic here is not so much in the intricate ecology of the place, than in the extraordinary human scene that has thrived around this stretch of water. It is a place to see, meet, swim, love and relax; a locus aemonius where one can grasp a fleeting moment of immanent harmony with nature, albeit along an old canal on the remains of some disused railwayline”

“Immanent Landscape”, Cristophe Girot, Harvard Landscape Magazine/ landscape architecture core 36, 2013

The area before the intervention

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M3 Programming Landscape

The module uses the programming language Processing to introduce students to the principles of parametric design.Through several exercises, which build on each other in content, and a lecture series with guest speakers the possibilities of ‘programmed design’ are learned and discussed. The goal is for students to be able to recognize and define starting points for programming in a design. Processing is especially appropriate for integrating teaching and research. It was developed from a continuously growing group of people at MIT’s Media Lab and made available to the open source community. As a result, Processing allows ideas to be realized and prototypes to be created relatively efficiently. In addition, its procedural introduction makes it easy to learn, and we have observed that the learning curve is very good.

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Instructors Georg Munkel, Pia Fricker

First exercise in Processing!

The first week of module 3 , we did the “tile exercise”! From simplicity to compexity, this was a interesting exercise and an “a priori” step to go further in Processing world! The results were impressing.

student:Jacqueline Frizi

 

student: Maki Hasegawa

 

student: Alexandre Roulin

 

student: Iro Theodoropoulou

 

student: Sofia Prifti

 

student: Gaganjit Singh

 

student: Angelos Komninos

 

student: Georgios Sarmaniotis

 

student: Mohamed Abdel Wahab

 

student: Gebhard Merk