The territory has always been a determining factor in the formation of the identity of nations, communities and different places. But today the question that arises is whether in a globalized world it is possible to continue talking about territorial identity.
As argued Michael Hough, founder of the landscape architecture program at the University of Toronto:
The visual nature of the pre-industrial landscapes was formed by the need. There was no other alternative than to accept the limitations imposed by nature, culture and technology. The differences between one place and another, the feeling of belonging or rooting to a particular location has been accepted since there were no other alternatives. (…) The lack of alternatives forced the recognition of the regional imperatives.
In other times, contextual constraints helped determine the identity of a territory, the population that lived in it and consequently the constructions that human beings built in those places.
At the moment, these obstacles no longer exist, we can import any physical or cultural thing from anywhere in the world and apply it to a totally different area. Even more, thanks to the technological evolution we can even change the sound of this territory to make it look like anywhere else. It is a fact that we can see continuously in our surroundings, in the architecture, in the policies of management of the territory, in the urbanism and to the own culture. These factors are no longer determined by the limitations of the nearest environment, but not by the needs imposed by a global culture.
In principle this should not be a problem, the territory is not immovable, and throughout history it has been changing due to both natural factors and human activity. But before these transformations responded to a necessity, and were delimited by the own exigencies of the place where they took place.
The problem appears when these transformations are made without taking into account the territory where they occur, nor the impact they may have on it. If we add a standardization to the models of construction, materials and architectural designs, what we find is that the identity of each territory has been blurry. The differences between the urbanizations of a certain territory and those of another very remote and different have become virtually imperceptible. The same applies to industrial estates or leisure areas, among others.
It is what Urban Geogra’s professor at Urban of the UAB calls urbanization.
As has already been said, all these rapid transformations, implemented without the necessary planning and without assessing the landscape and environmental impact, have caused a great loss of the identity of the territory.
It is necessary to create a collective consciousness on this subject since the landscape and the territory are factors
determinants in our identity as a society.
The problem is that most of these changes go unnoticed by much of the population.
We have to take into account that the landscape is a cultural construction, it is our brain that creates landscapes by observing territories, and if our mind is not able to accept and incorporate these transformations of the territory, we do not have the conception of this degradation of the different locations.
This is what Joan Nogué, director of the Catalan Landscape Observatory, called the invisibility of the territory: “We only see those landscapes that we want to see, those that respond to our traditional idea of landscape.”
If we are not able to see these transformations, we can not assess the impact they have or the suitability of performing them in a specific place.
That is why I think that it is more necessary than ever to give all possible visibility to this issue; it is necessary to make the greatest possible public disclosure about the problems of loss of landscape identity. Focus on the transformations of the territory.
Many photographic and artistic projects have been made on this subject, and academic studies are regularly analyzed analyzing the situation and warning about the problem. But these works usually do not have any kind of impact beyond the academic or artistic world. The vast majority of society does not receive the information and is not aware of this problem.
That is why I have decided to promote a platform to give more visibility to all these projects that can help to understand the situation. Clearly, if we want to reach a broad spectrum of population, we must make this disclosure very visually and comprehensibly, we can not expect people to read a 200-page book on this subject, but if we can get more simple and concentrated articles talking of it. And so does the artistic projects.
This is how the idea of Panorama, a web platform, is born, which brings together visual and academic works in a very attractive way for the viewer. Where people with diverse interests can see and understand the problem of the identity of the territory, and why not, participate actively in this disclosure.
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