Reading the American Landscape
An Index of Books and Images
Published by nai010 publishers.
Edited by Anne Hoogewoning, Lex ter Braak, David Hamers, Erik de Jong.
From high-rise to desert, urban sprawl to empty canyons, the American landscape is incredibly various: how does one even begin to take stock of its endlessly proliferating cityscapes and vast horizons? Reading the American Landscape rises marvelously to the challenge. For this anthropological epic, 25 landscape architects, urban designers, visual artists, photographers and commentators on the American landscape were invited by The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture to undertake a journey through the United States, to study and record its history and development. Their study revolved around three themes or types of location: the city park as a social space in densely developed cities; landscapes on the periphery of expanding cities; and the development of large-scale rural areas as exercises in conservation. The writers for this project were each given a bibliography, from which they selected a single title as a starting point for their essays, on subjects ranging from parks and gardens to more general speculations on the unique features of the American landscape. Designed by the much-admired Irma Boom, Reading the American Landscape offers amazing taxonomies of species, sites and structures—from verandas to concert halls, individual plants to entire parks, highways to railroads, indoor exhibition spaces to public sculptures, suburban homes to inner-city developments, desert horizons to secluded gardens, in 6,500 photographs printed in typological grids across nearly 1,000 pages. The contributors to this volume—among them Voebe de Gruyter, Erik Odijk, Frank van der Salm and many others—have assembled what is one of the most broad-ranging and anthropologically adventurous studies of the American landscape ever published.