Operationalising the Sublime: Remediation of the Horokiwi Quarry
Landscape designers have been fixated on the aesthetic category of the sublime ever since its emergence in the early 18th century, yet the concept has tended to escape the grasp of many of those who have grappled with its complexities. The capacity of the sublime to overwhelm a body is attractive to designers but tends to be seen as difficult to represent, and therefore design with. This thesis examines the sublime as an aesthetic experience that is fundamental to how landscape designers engage with their medium. It traces the relationship between the sublime and the discipline from the 18th-century to the dominant form of contemporary systems-based designing. The challenge of engaging with the pre-existing is central to landscape design practices yet has received little attention throughout the past two decades. Responding to this deferral from aesthetics by contemporary landscape architectural discourse and practice, the thesis unpacks the works of several designer-thinkers who establish a community of practice for exploring the aesthetic relationship to the pre-existing landscape. In order to operationalise the sublime, the thesis proposes a design model based on Gilles Deleuze’s notions of intensity, problematics, affects, and assemblage – one that is closer to the 18th century theorists – as a productive means through which designers both represent and adjust its operations. This model is explored through a practice-led design research project. The Horokiwi Quarry in Wellington, New Zealand acts as a testbed for developing and documenting design techniques suited to the sublime. This study seeks to give expression – re-present and experience – the affectual dimensions of sublime encounters discovered within the Horokiwi Quarry. In this, drawings and other forms of representation are required to explicate and later modify the spatio-temporal relations that give rise to the sublime.