Think then of landscape architecture as a modern “other” and a postmodern “ground.” Let us propose that landscape architectural history and theory should be about the cultural, geomorphological, and ecological history of the preexisting site as well as the history of the design project and its designer. Let us propose that landscape architectural history and theory should be about the intersection of a site’s preexisting form and structure with the proposed design form and structure. The intersection of geometry and geomorphology, of past site and present project, requires a dialogue between the site as a speaking figure and the designer’s markings on that site. Landscape design is not about monologues. Our concern for the many layers of form that are inscribed on a site often requires a “double voiced discourse, containing dominant and muted story, what Gilbert and Gubar call a palimpsest.” This double-voiced discourse is predicated on a systems aesthetic, not an object aesthetic; it is about the relationship between things, not the things alone.
Relationships between things. Hybrids. Continuums. Cyborgs. Now we are able to circle back to the proper place of landscape architecture. Perhaps [Sherry] Ortner’s description of women’s intermediate position between nature and culture can act as an analog for landscape architecture’s position within the fields, theories, and practices of design and planning as well as within the conceptual frameworks of social and political life:
Our built works on the land, like the theories we construct, are human interpretations of ourselves and the natural world. If nature is a cultural construct, one that evolves as our society changes, shouldn’t the field that is most concerned with shaping the land develop a shared language that reflects these hybrid relationships? Why should we continue to rely on conceptual design categories that inadequately convey what is unique to our field—the systems, structures, and spaces of the land, of plants, of soils, of the seasons—and what is characteristic of postmodernity, our culture—the shifting of nature, the landscape, and ecological thinking from a marginal to a central concern?