What is in a grain of sand?
Where has it been and what histories does it hold?
The earth is made from solar dust and gas that bundled itself together through a magnetism of ions. Water was brought to the earth in tiny particles from meteors that over millions of centuries melted then amassed to form puddles, then ponds, then lakes and rivers and oceans. Or so they think. These meteors carried amino acids. Every living thing on earth – all plants and animals – are made of amino acids. At first they existed as just small bacteria that created oxygen, but eventually there was enough oxygen to form a liveable atmosphere. And thus life was born. By a mere chance of the right combination – we came from that… somewhere along the line.
I have recently been reading about the notion of nature and landscape as a construct, at least the way we perceive it in the Western world. There is a push within landscape architecture to transcend the duality between humanity and nature, perhaps calling on us to appreciate the symbiotic relationship that can exist with what we call ‘the natural world’ and to not see ourselves as so separate from it. There are many cultures in the world that have never seen it as such. It is as fundamental as having a relationship with the land, rather than to the land.
In our current geological epoch known to some as the Anthropocene, the effects of our species have literally been written into the rocks. Since the Industrial revolution, there have been a variety of anthropogenic effects that have caused a heightened amount of toxicity within the atmosphere; fossil fuel extraction, agriculture, and deforestation, to name a few. These toxins have settled into the earth and now serve as a record of humanity’s existence, just as the traces from previous epochs can be read through geological stratification and ice core samples. At least, that is how I understand it…