- Editors’ Introduction
WHAT WE SEE
Design professors frequently advise their students to learn how to see, linking to this charge such phrases as “bring the right lens to the problem,” “apply vision to the creative process,” and “learn to discern the eye of the beholder.” First-year landscape architecture students are often asked to read Donald Meinig’s “The Beholding Eye: Ten Versions of the Same Scene” (1979) in which he discusses the differing lenses people bring to landscape interpretation, urges caution about personal biases, and suggests that a better understanding of those lenses presents opportunities for enhanced communication. More advanced students sometimes read about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s concept of the transparent eyeball as a means of creatively engaging nature, supposedly free of cultural and social constraints (Emerson 1836). As students learn sketching, they are taught that drawing and seeing are inextricably connected. In assessing the era of postmodern deconstruction, graduate students occasionally read N. Katherine Hayles, “Searching for Common Ground” (1995) in which she explains the notions of interactivity and positionality for the purpose of better seeing the vantages of others, including other species. Then, of course, students also learn design thinking, which is a method of envisioning some future reality though a process of empathy, iteration, modeling, and testing.
From these and other experiences, landscape architecture students quickly become aware of the multiple defi nitions and metaphorical uses of the word see. It variously means to perceive with one’s eyes; to understand; to visualize; to empathize with another’s perspective; and to imagine (create a mental image of) a future reality. Over the years, articles in Landscape Journal have reﬂected all of these definitions of seeing. In this introduction we express our belief that seeing as a way of deeply understanding differing points of view and seeing as a means of envisioning the future are deeply important for the evolution of research in landscape architecture.
Seeing Differing Points of View
It is because of this belief in empathetic seeing that, in our introduction to 33:1, we suggested a number of important social and environmental issues worthy of exploration in Landscape Journal. While those topics were not intended to be comprehensive, we did hope for renewed interest in the pressing issues and debates of the age.
Since that introduction, issues of race have come to the forefront of national consciousness once again. On the evening of June 17, 2015, 21-year-old Dylann Roof entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and, after listening to an inprogress bible study, opened fire, killing nine black parishioners, including Senior Pastor and State Senator Clementa C. Pinkney (Eversley 2015). National outrage gave new immediacy to numerous concerns already articulated by African-American leaders. Of direct concern are the real and perceived extant symbols of oppression dating from the anti-Civil Rights era back to the Civil War. Because of that raised consciousness, the Confederate battle ﬂag, which ﬂew for years in front of the South Carolina State Capitol, was permanently lowered on July 10, 2015. Days after the ﬂag lowering in South Carolina, the Georgia Chapter of the NAACP called for the removal of the massive Stone Mountain, Georgia bas-relief of Confederate heroes carved onto a granite mountainside. Since then others have questioned the many roads, buildings, and institutions named for heroes of the Confederacy and the Jim Crow South, as well as the existence of memorials, monuments, sculptures, and markers dedicated to the “lost cause of the Confederacy” or which were constructed during the period of “massive resistance” to [End Page iv] integration in the years following Brown vs. the Board of Education, 1954.
Because landscape architectural practitioners, students, and academics design and study memorials and because of the importance of this topic to the future of the nation, we encourage well-researched manuscripts on the subject. In this issue, for example, the typical approach to memorialization is questioned as it relates to racial injustice during World War II. In succeeding issues other authors will explore the sources of many of the memorials under scrutiny today. It is our hope that research on this topic will...