zondag 30 september 2012

Amazonian garden dissected

In Charles C. Mann's '1493' (earlier) we find this glossed picture of an Amazonian garden in N.E. Brazil. It shows the detailed and intricate knowledge behind a good garden. 

dinsdag 25 september 2012

Mehinaku cartography [mapping the Xingu]

The Mehinaku are an indigenous Amazonian  people living in Xingu park. In his 1977 book 'The Mehinaku: The Drama of Daily Life in a Brazilian Indian Village' Thomas Gregor writes about them as if they were actors acting out their part. If life is a performance the village is a stage: "The Mehinaku village and its environs are a theatre for the enactment of everyday social relationships... The layout of the village and the architecture of the houses are simultaneously a spatial representation of Mehinaku social organization and a traffic pattern for the flow of information and interaction." If you say so! The images gives us something of everything: the village as a allusion to the cosmos, the mental map, the cognitive map, a cartoon and an areal picture.  We are always happy when can store up on some more ethnocartographic imagery. Click to Enlarge.  

"A Mehinaku view of everyday village life. When Amairi painted this he occasionally stopped to chuckle over his characterization of a particular villager."

maandag 24 september 2012

Plant: Wild or Not?

I discovered a plant in my street and a reader knew it's name: verbena bonariensis. The plant grew on its own in a small messy flowerbed but I have been noticing it everywhere as a garden plant. In fact it's probably the most fashionable plant of the season. However I have also discovered a few growing on a small untended plot overgrown with typical weedy species like primrose and blackberry, their distribution has the chaotic pattern of self-seeding. Wikipedia tells us that the purple top is native to South America and that it does spread with the wind. So what is the plant in my street? Is it wild (read escaped), planted or planted but forgotten by its gardener? Whatever the case: I am feeling all Gilbert White hot on the heels of a plant about to turn weed. 

dinsdag 18 september 2012

Our cities are places of conditional liberty

"The relationship between the Occupy movement and the city is intense. The taking of Zuccotti Park, as well as St Paul’s churchyard in London, revealed the secret dangers of allowing public spaces to be privately owned to this extent. Our cities have increasingly become places of conditional liberty –where you can be stopped from taking photographs, where legitimate gatherings are bustled off the pavement, where you can be thrown out of the shopping mall for wearing a baseball cap, where private companies are collecting data about you without you knowing.

By taking land back – even for a few weeks – the Occupy movement has changed the way we encounter every part of the city, not just where the tents once stood. The protest has become a defence of the whole public realm and is not just about preserving the memory of what happened at Zuccotti Park or St Paul’s churchyard alone."

Leo Hollis in the New Statesman

vrijdag 14 september 2012

Today Joe and Hannah would be refused at the border as unwanted aliens

Charles Hall with Joe and Hannah

"In 1853 a British whaling captain had persuaded an Eskimo couple, Tookolito and Ebierbing,to accompany him back to London. Over two years they had learned English, had adopted the mannerisms, dress and religion of their host nation and had become minor celebrities. They had been presented to Queen Victoria and had won the hearts of a society that revelled, as no other, in converting others to its own ways. When the novelty wore off they were sent to New York, where they created no less of a sensation. Then they were dropped back on Baffin Island complete with new names ('Joe' and 'Hannah') and a new wardrobe, to be forgotten save by passing whalers who sold them articles of western civilization to which they had become accustomed. " - 'Ninety Degrees North', Fergus Fleming, image from Northern Exposures]

maandag 3 september 2012

We know nothing of untamed Nature

"We know nothing of untamed Nature, because our own landscape is entirely subject to our needs and desires. If it sometimes strikes us as untamed, it is either because in our forests, for instance its changes operate to a slower rhythm; or because as in the mountains the problems were of such complexity that Man has tackled them in detail rather than in one systematic assault. Such coherence as has resulted from these innumerable individual initiatives now seems to share the original primitive character of the mountain-world, whereas in fact it is due to an interlocking chain of decisions and enterprises, each of which seemed at the time to be independent of the others. Yet even the wildest of European landscapes has something of order and proportion about it. (Poussin was the incomparable interpreter of this.) Walk among our mountains and you will notice the contrast between forest and bare slope, the relation between the forest and the meadows below it: and the variety of expression which comes about as first one kind of vegetation, and then another, dominates the scene Travel in America, and you will realize that this sublime harmony, far from being the spontaneous expression of Nature herself, is the result of agreements long sought for between mankind and the site in question. What causes us to gape, in all simplicity, are the traces of our bygone enterprise. " - Claude Levi-Strauss.

zondag 2 september 2012

5 out of 100 Wild Huts prospected

100 Wild Huts is Kevin Langan's ongoing project to: "build 100 small survival shelters on any piece of ground that harbours enough natural resources for the build. I intend to sleep rough in each shelter for one night and blog about the experiences." He is down to five so far and already the range of designs is impressive. When he is done the result with be catalogue for primitivist-survivalists looking for inspiration. Great stuff. Langan is a long distance walker with a 132km Highland walk guide book to his name.

The wild hut project came to me in an email by Felix Wilson (earlier) who has been helping a friend in constructing similar one-night huts. But not in Glasgow but in Tasmania. Ray Mears is to art in the 21th century what Marchel Duchamp was in the 20th century.