TEXT | The earth and the world

Posted on 28/11/2011

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I’m attempting to develop my geographic knowledge and spatial thinking in ways that diffuse some of the disciplinary boundaries. While I have a growing interest in this field, I have only a rudimentary understanding of it, primarily through the critical and cultural geographies that have filtered through my significantly humanities readings and writings. My work is much more abstract. So in deference to my postgraduate studies, I have embarked on a series of private readings to better grasp this relationship between geography and planning. Place is a central idea in geography – I’ve just spend the last semester tutoring this in an architecture program. My reading is also prompted, in part, by an interest in the intersection of artistic/writing practice and geography and the ways in which artists offer experimental, radical, hybrid and recombinant geographies.

Geography is a discipline crossed by a range of practice and theoretical ruptures and conflicts. Applied geography, according to Michael Pacione, “cross-cuts artificial disciplinary boundaries to involve problem-oriented research in both human and physical geography”. In other words, no single geography can address the complex problems we face today and that there is an inherent need to be not only intradisciplinary but also interdisciplinary. In noting this, it seemed to have some correlation with the practice of wicked problems/clumsy solutions, another proposition for radically different approaches to complex problems and potentially redirected practice.

Applied geography is not always aligned with academic interests and “deals with real world problems” ie geographic knowledge is put to use. In this sense, I suggest that there is some potential for redirecting this knowlege. Can applied geography and redirected design strike a clattering conversation? In geography we know we are on and of the earth, in design there is sometimes a tendency to be beyond the earth, in the world. However, redirected practice puts us in and of the world, a very different construct to that of the earth. How the earth and the world meet is of significant concern for a redirected practice of geography and a challenge for changing change.

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Posted in: culture, theory