The term “radical” stems from the original Latin radicalis - “of roots” and from Latin radix “root”. Whereas, this term ironically resembles “Conservative”, owing to Conservatism’s high valuation of something’s earned past (especially when confronted with “radical change”), I really like the application of “radical” to art as something very nearly opposite of the spirit of its definition. “Radically opposite”, in fact. The term is loosely applied here, but in the overall “sense of things”, it fully meets the spirit of my claims regarding the stunning evolution of a trade which has seen periods of high fashion – from Ancient Times and Babylon’s Hanging Gardens to Frederick Olmstead’s White City and his incredible collection of urban designing accomplishments. Currently, right now, we see regular people create masterpieces of riveting detail and interest in their own fabulous yards, inspiring more public artists and landscaping specialists in a wider realm. I have always said that the best work I ever ran across were productions made by homeowners in the experimental privacy of their own homes. It also is true.
My current usage of the term “Radical Art” indicates an actual and literal departure from “regular” cosmetics of a trade so long defined as an adjunct to buildings and their grounds – the General Field of Landscaping. It is my conviction that landscaping has evolved into its very own architecture, indeed, outgrowing “Dad” – into it’s own sort of identity and utility – of Architecture, per se, and has subsequently evolved further into real art. Of course, architectural renderings oversee the more vast properties of our urban environments. They must, actually, owing to simple organizational difficulties in their construction and implementation.
What we now see all around us in growing profusion are swaths of land, of urban and suburban wonders, we can simply no longer take for granted and which rivet our minds and souls in ways by which we find ourselves utterly challenged. Some are larger than others:
This work of art in Australia, known as ‘Mundi Man’ or ‘Eldee Man’ was constructed by noted painter Ando (website here) and is located on Mundi Mundi Plains, NSW. It is the world’s largest art work, covering some 4 million square meters, or 5 million square yards. That’s a lot of “cosmetics”!
Antonio Gaudi may have set the Lunatic Fringe of Radical Art in landscaping with not only his remarkable building designs, but in the incredible complexity and bizarre designs so rife at Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain. His admixture of “primitive” and ultra-modern are well-illustrated in this photo I gathered from this website, dealing with Cruises.
The stunning work of Isamu Noguchi, as offered in the first photograph above, has also offered a primary glimpse of landscaping radicalism for long years prior. Now fully enacted by a fabulously and numerically-rich coterie of building designers, the arresting visual and sensual 360 degrees of 3 dimensionality of landscaping reaches an exemplary peak in his work. Below is his spare, yet incredibly evocative construction of a park erected on the site of a former garbage landfill.
Moerenuma Park, Sapporo, Japan:
My view of these installation includes the packages relative to the advancement of technological breakthroughs in the machinery itself of construction. If Da Vinci could conceive of “lift”, “displacement” and the eventual forms which encourage Mankind to fly, then the wildly impractical new wonders of Drip Irrigation, water pumps and advancements in adhesives have opened an entire realm of gravity-defying work of its own.
Vertical Gardening will produce many Babylons, right before our every eyes:
Even residences will gain from inexpensive-yet colorful profusions of verticality, a technology now just getting underway.
The advent of the Mini-Excavator, in my world of installations, has produced amazing wonders, quickly-accomplished, only requiring an imaginative combination of designers and installers to implement the next wave of the booming field of water features. Note here the incredible handsomeness of the stud at the business end of such a handy little monster of torque:
Fountains, water, radicalism, sound and senses…………………..
Lighting has caused a Mini Sensation and a completely outrageous burst of creativity in the field as well, from simple, well-placed uplights and filters of a smaller but ineffably gorgeous dimension:
To the radical fringe of massive urban production such as this Mall Fountain in Singapore – the world’s largest fountain:
More Radical yet, we have the entire realm of fountains and the myriad new applications of water, beginning, once again, with Noguchi’s completely impractical 9 Floating Fountains at the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair:
My belief is that we are just entering a field which promises a burst of fabulous artwork of increasing meaning and relevance. I honestly believe we are being pushed outdoors, kicking and screaming, as our back yards become “destinations” and extended living rooms, kitchens and dens. Our cities become more vibrant when we supply other “destinations” to please the eyes and senses. The factor of radical art in landscaping may even supply microcosmic pleasure in our very ytensils and those items which we have so long merely taken for granted, such as garden furniture, as Helen Nock (website included) so brilliantly illustrates:
Walls and fences take on some structural interest when in the hands of Micahel Eckerman of Santa Cruz, his website here. A surfer and gatherer of native materials, his formations show movement and form which closely resemble the behavior of ocean waves:
The creations we see today raise our vision and stop our wandering eyes so that we can better focus on their message. The “message”, as in all art, is that of celebration of our shared humanity. These spiritual accomplishments encourage us all to be better people, in every way.
I am glad Landscaping enters the realm of art itself. The scope of the trade has no conceivable limit, from the very tiniest of realms to those of massive scale. It is Man tickling Man and the sooner we understand that, the more we can create and enjoy more of the same.