Roads and Fiberoptics

How do we interact with landscapes? The answer that seems most obvious, and potentially most problematic, is that we do so by moving through them. Perhaps this is why J. B. Jackson was so fascinated with roads; they are the process by which we move, as well as the manifestation of that process; they are the means and representation of our connectivity. At least our physical connectivity. But, are landscapes loosing meaning in our ever-digitizing world? At first glance, no. People still step away from their computers and screens to interact with the physical world: we step out to see what the world has to offer. However, we do so increasingly under the guiding influence of the internet. We no longer scour the landscape, appreciating the subtlety of its content, happening upon signs that lead us to previously unknown aspects, whether a natural vista, lively street, or stunning restaurant. Increasingly we learn about what to see and do in snapshots captured by carefully selected photographs and crafted reviews. The landscape is no longer experienced as a fluid environment to be explored, but rather as a series of connected and ranked dots, not so differently from how photographs have been distilled into pixels. It’s easier and easier look only at what we’ve already seen on our screens, to the neglect of all else. And as we further neglect the interim of these selected dots, they are more easily threatened by other forces. This is why landscapes, and their protection, are important now more than ever before: they provide the shocking reality of the world around us: they reveal the subtle fluidity of it and encourage us to turn and look outside of the frame merely by confronting us with the vastness of their variety and subtlety; blending the pixels together again into a more complex whole.

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