Landscape perceptions and experiences

The aims of this blog is
1) to gather material which helps us to view 'Landscape' from many different perspectives (Science, Phenomenology, Aesthetics, Ethics etc)
2) and secondly to record 'Landscape experiences' from our workshops (Reports) and my own experiences (Diary).
For our workshops see our website

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Landscape, Expanding Consciousness and Inspiring

What can landscape have to do with widening our consciousness? And in which way can landscape inspire people?

A landscape you will meet as soon as you leave the house or look through the window. But then what do you see? Because we see our environment every day and are occupied in it, we think we know it, and often we recognise many things, but we do not stand back often and observe.
If I asked you, "What do you see?", Then probably come up with all sorts of things, you know pretty well. And yet you neighbours see other things. We often ask ourselves, "Why don't other people see what we see?" Maybe it would be better to ask ourselves, "What do other people see and we do not?"!
Also, there are phenomena that you experience in your environment that are not related to physical separate things, but relate to the overall landscape picture, including what one can hear or smell etc.. But we can become also aware of phenomena, which we do not have perceive with the usual senses, and which we can express in such words as cosy, friendly, quiet, serene, oppressive, anxious. etc..

So now what really determines what we see or experience? Obviously it depends on what is there. We happen to live on this earth with other creatures (plants, animals and humans) and atmosphere (sky with clouds, stars, sun and moon) and our landscape is a part of it and also the character of the landscape depends on what there has occurred (history) and what is now taking place.

The question "What determines what we actually see?" was perhaps a bit confusing or naughty, as I am also of the opinion that it also depends on us what we see.
So the question may also be expressed; Now who really determines what we see?
In divers ways it depends on us what we see. We only know or better said we only recognize things for which we have concepts. As long as we have no certain concepts concerning bricklaying, we do not see that there are certain patterns in walls. As long as we have no certain concepts of geology, we do not see that there are sandy soils in the east and clay soils in the west and along the rivers of Holland to be found with all its consequences; including other crops and natural plant growth.
Secondly, what we see depends on what we want to do, for example; What is our profession or our leisure and what is our aim? A farmer sees different things in the landscape then a painter, or an ecologist or a tourist. An architect or a contractor or a housewife all see different things in a village- or town landscape.
All in all it comes down to is that we all have the same landscape image; all sensory impressions are identical (if we watch from the same angle or position) but the meaning is different for everyone, because everyone adds various or different ideas and concepts gained through education, training, culture etc. to this picture. The result of this mainly unconscious joining process is seen and experienced as reality.
Now it is true that ideas and concepts are universal, that is they are accessible to everyone. Once I told you about the different ways one can lay bricks, suddenly you see the various patterns for yourself. And also about the sandy and clay soils in Holland.
So if we learn to perceive and experience a landscape together and then share these experiences we become aware of the different and various aspects of the local landscape, which we simply did not see before, and which are also very important. So this process expands your consciousness.
As long as we realize that we have only a part of reality in front of our nose and not the whole of reality, then there is not much wrong. Better yet is to ask questions, because then you become attentive and then all sorts of things no longer appear so obvious, but you start to see things as it were for the first time. And also how it appears, without automatically saying "that's that," For once you have given it a name, eg a house, a tree as you walk past it, then the details of the unique event you have missed.  And if we are more or less like a child unprejudiced (note the word's meaning; not judged before), as if we meet a landscape for the first time then we actually see a lot more, than our everyday day to day environment. And this can be very inspiring, especially if we can share and exchange these experiences with other people.