Landscape of Power: Overlook Field School

This weekend we had the delightful opportunity to participate in the final show at the University of Oregon's Overlook Field School, which is generously hosted at the Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes near Scranton, PA.


The horse barn at the Fuller Center for Productive Landscapes

Each year Associate Professor Roxi Thoren designs a unique curriculum around a theme related to productive landscapes. Year one (2012) was related to agriculture, year two (2013) challenged students to think about forestry, and this third year was dedicated to the theme Landscape of Power.

The outcome is one or more ambitious built projects by each student set within the stunning and varied Overlook landscape (they only have two weeks from conception to finished installation). Below are some photos of the resulting projects from this year's field school along with the students' concept statements. Students were asked to create interventions that challenge understandings of the relationship of landscape to power production and consumption. Some chose to create installations that incorporated renewable power production in some way, some chose to convey messages of energy sustainability, and others chose to work with natural energies in thoughtful ways.



Howl, by Miranda Hawkes. Howl is an interactive sculpture that amplifies the sound of the wind and demonstrates the generative potential of the wind at Overlook. Using the reverberative technology of a pipe organ, the individual tubes harmonize as the wind passes over them, while the wedge shape directs the sound to the user. Allowed to swivel freely, Howl invites the participant to tune the machine as they interact with it.



Anemograph, by Grayson Morris. Anemograph encourages interaction and artfully displays wind speed recordings, altering the visitor's perception of wind energy.


Breakfast, by Grayson Morris. This piece captures the tantalizing motion of the weeping cherry tree in the form of ink on paper. Daily anemometer recordings are paired with the movement of the branches that sway beyond the dining room window.



Consumed, by Krisztian Megyeri. This project investigates how land art can be used to communicate ideas while providing aesthetic intrigue. A path in the forest leads through a series of installations that can be interpreted as infographics about resource and energy consumption. The three-dimensionality of the pieces aims to heighten the visitor experience by making the information more poignant and relatable.




Electric Fescue, by Andrew Jepson-Sullivan. Inspired by the fields of northeastern Pennsylvania, a new species of grass has sprouted at Overlook. Like the many other plant species, Festuca electricus gathers energy from sunlight in a photosynthesis-like process. At night the energy is released, creating a glowing light display that entices creatures to visit and linger under sharp, pointy inflorescences.



Mine, Midden, Artifact, by Kate Tromp van Holst. Mine, Midden, Artifact is a reflection of our past and present material culture and the processes involved in that culture, including the extraction of fuels and materials, manufacturing of objects, and those objects returning to the earth in waste piles and landfills. The location of the installation capitalizes on structures once used for power and water, which have become obsolete with modern technology, much like the artifacts inside.



Wind Scene I and II, by Kelly Stoecklein. I - To see wind it must act on an object, making it visible. Inspiration for this piece comes from observing the relationship of wind and water and the patterns created from that interaction. Inspired by whimsical, playful, and delicate themes and experiences, it is intended to be a tool for reading the wind as a means to create a meditative and thoughtful place for contemplation and curiosity. II - Currents, static to dynamic, and the movement created from delicate disruption are made visible in Scene II. By distiling the observable object to a simple, soft, and subtle light, the currents and their interactions are emphasized creating a field of ephemeral moving light.

Thank you Roxi for inviting us to take part in the presentation of this year's outcomes, and thank you to the Fuller family for hosting us at their lovely estate. Thanks also to Fraser Stuart, Liska Chan, and Anne Godfrey, who have incorporated the Land Art Generator Initiative project into their Landscape Architecture curricula at the University of Oregon. Thank you all for sharing the LAGI conceptual framework and competition outcomes with your students. Knowing that the project is reaching and being appreciated by an audience of brilliant academic minds makes all our hard work worth while.

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