By Thomas Patin
nationwide parks are the areas that current rules of nature to american citizens: Zion, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone call to mind fundamental and awe-inspiring desolate tract. by way of studying how rhetoric—particularly visible rhetoric—has labored to form our perspectives of nature and the “natural” position of people, Observation issues offers insights into questions of illustration, together with the formation of nationwide identity.
As Thomas Patin unearths, the time period “nature” is man made and volatile, short of consistent upkeep and reconstruction. the method of stabilizing its illustration, he notes, is necessarily political. America’s nationwide parks and monuments exhibit how visible rhetoric operates to naturalize and stabilize representations of our environment. As individuals show, visible rhetoric is frequently obvious, structuring adventure whereas final hidden in undeniable sight. Scenic overlooks and turnouts body perspectives for travelers. customer facilities, with their exhibit circumstances and images and orientation motion pictures, offer their very own issues of view—literally and figuratively. Guidebooks, brochures, and different guides current nonetheless alternative ways of seeing. while, photos of America’s “natural” international have lengthy been hired for nationalist and capitalist ends, linking expansionism with American greatness and the “natural” triumph of ecu american citizens over local Americans.
The essays accumulated the following disguise a big selection of matters, together with park structure, panorama portray, public ceremonies, and strategies of demonstrate. members are from an both wide variety of disciplines—art historical past, geography, museum experiences, political technological know-how, American experiences, and lots of different fields. jointly they boost a provocative new visible family tree of representation.
Contributors: Robert M. Bednar, Southwestern U, Georgetown, Texas; Teresa Bergman, U of the Pacific; Albert Boime, UCLA; William Chaloupka, Colorado nation U; Gregory Clark, Brigham younger U; Stephen Germic, Rocky Mountain university; Gareth John, St. Cloud nation U, Minnesota; Mark Neumann, Northern Arizona U; Peter Peters, Maastricht U; Cindy Spurlock, Appalachian country U; David A. Tschida, U of Wisconsin, Eau Claire; Sabine Wilke, U of Washington.
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Additional resources for Observation points : the visual poetics of national parks
Stephen Mather was one of those visitors. During the years he was founding what became the National Park Service (NPS), Mather retreated to Zion Canyon almost annually. He, too, considered the place a kind of refuge, one he shared first with influential friends and then with the rest of the nation when he presided over the process of making Zion Canyon into a national park. Mather’s western national parks are all wilderness places, and by that time in the early twentieth century, wilderness in America had been for some time imagined conventionally as a place of refuge.
Displays at visitor centers use scale being here, looking there 17 models, panels, artifacts, and photographs to display knowledge that is supposed to “interpret” the park as a whole for visitors and help them learn how to interpret it for themselves as they participate in the process of “reading” and representing space in the spaces outside the visitor center. Official park maps and guides highlight, preview, and frame the marked sites within the park, showing in words and pictures what constitutes an “appropriate” and “authentic” experience of each park as well as interpellating several different types of visitors with different amounts of time to spend and with attractions to different activities.
Bednar Thus, while the content and the Q&A format of the hinged panels presume and address users who need to be instructed, the overall installation does not. Instead, the installation addresses visitors as if they already know how to use the installation. Instructions for use then become the taken-for-granted, commonsense thing that “everyone knows,” an absent presence rendered all the more central to the functioning of the installation because it is not brought to the surface of the discursive engagement between the people who produce the parks and those who consume them.