ABSTRACT

What makes the picturesque something other than the pictures to which it alludes, is movement. Pictures represent spaces in which one can imagine moving. They also have their own position as objects hung on the wall and are related spatially to a mobile observer. However, since the dominance of framed easel pictures, this viewing position has been a disembodied gaze. The critique of the picture in later twentieth-century painting brings back the body in only the most abstract sense. By contrast, our visual experience of gardens, buildings and cities is as embodied subjects: we are not merely changing position but are walking, driving, passing by, arriving, entering, staring, glancing … These eye and body movements are varyingly complex sets of gestures and locomotion, forming whole 'movements' that can be identified and named. It seems obvious that planning for such movements is the business of architecture, urbanism and landscape architecture: to move the viewer, to make 'movements' that are as identifiable as everyday activities such as walking to the shop, but to construe these movements as art. Hence the common and not inconsiderable charge against the picturesque in architecture, gardening and urbanism that it stills the viewer, removes the particularity of viewing in motion and duration, and flattens space.