Catalogue no.32: On clipping, snipping, trimming …

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Catalogue no. 32 presents a range of tools used in the construction and maintenance of our urban landscapes. The spaces we occupy are a direct product of the tools and instruments we have at our disposal to construct and maintain them.

The catalogue proposes that landscape is not only what is easily seen, but also a process of making. As the urban landscape is made and remade, the tools that enact these changes also become subjects for inquiry. What material processes are put in motion by these tools? How are the intentions, traditions, and experience of the user reflected in their choice of tool? How has technology changed the ways tools are engaged in urban landscapes? Do the limits of what can be made limit what we imagine as possible?

Drawing from historical precedents of tool catalogues and maintenance manuals, this catalogue repositions tools and our attention towards the process of making. In one of the earliest garden manuals and collection of horticultural instruments, Elysium Brittanicum, or the Royal Gardens, John Evelyn notes, landscape architecture has ‘certain instruments and tools properly belonging to it, and without which we can hope for little success in our labours.’ Through the assembly of tools and instruments used in our common, every-day surroundings, Catalogue no. 32 recognizes the range of material elements within our urban landscapes that create the spaces we inhabit—those elements that are obvious and those often overlooked, from hedges to stone curbing, catch basins to lawns.

The catalogue provides a visual collection of these materials as well as the tools used to shape them. It reveals the visible traces of construction, design, and material manipulation legible in our every-day environment and implies the extent of manipulation and construction that goes into making and maintaining the spaces around us. At the same time, it questions the relationship between cultural preference and technological development in the establishment of ubiquitous regional landscape aesthetics, such as the obsession with manicured lawns and the development of the mower.

The catalogue offers a view into the complexity and control that supports the public spaces we occupy.