Christophe Girot

The Margins of Vision

The selective perceptual attrition of society is very symptomatic of our work with video; because it explains why landscape as spatial entity is no longer of central importance. Landscape has disintegrated into an informal background medium upon which other events are played and displayed, it has lost a language of its own. Instead of being the focal point of an established visual culture, as was the case with the 'Veduta' of the Renaissance, the 'Perspective' of Baroque times or the 'Picturesque' of the Romantics, our present landscape vision remains in a constant state of flux, it has no name 'per se, and has become the residual subsidiary of many other sorts of gazes. Beyond the simple cinematic explanation of our changing visual culture, interest in landscape has also been severely damage by a blatant absence of contemporary mythical embodiment. The Land-Art movement barely managed to maintain this kind of effort for a couple of decades in the 1970's and 1980's, and then dwindled. In other words, what we presently see is simply not what we get. There has actually been a complete breakdown in our perceptual faith regarding landscape. Landscape has been relegated to the margins of our vision not only because the way of viewing our world has changed, but also because the thing out there no longer matches the pre-conceptions that we have stored in our memory. Vision is about a coded language of signifiers, and when the signifiers cease to operate and inform the viewer, the meaning collapses entirely. What is required, in fact, is a renewed act of faith regarding our present world with the active reinvention of a contemporary myth of landscape based on the belief of what we actually see out there. In this sense video can plays an essential nurturing role in depicting the dominance of movement and speed in contemporary society. The French thinker, Paul Virilio goes so far as to postulate that we actually need the speed to be able to perceive landscape within in the space and time continuum of today.

[Paul Virifio explains that speed is actually necessary to see, apprehend and nurture our sense of contemporary reality: "Si donc la vitesse sert bien vole, a concevoir, c'est a-dire apprehender la realite et pas uniquement a se depLocer, c'est qu'elle a partie Hee avec la foi perceptive, cette croyance oculaire inseparable de notre conscience immediate." Virilio, Paul; "L'entrevue", 'Un Paysage d'Evenemente, Ed. Galilee, Paris, 1996, p.95.]


Born 1957 in Paris, France I Bachelor of Arts, Environmental Planning & Management, UC Davis, California 1981 I Master of Architecture, School of Architecture, UC Berkeley 1986 I Master of Landscape Architecture, UC Berkeley 1988 I Lecturer UC Berkeley and UC Davis 1987-90 I Professor and Chairman Landscape Design Department, Ecole Nationale Superieure du Paysage, Versailles 1990-2000 I Full Professor, Chair of Landscape Architecture E-11-1 Zurich since 2001 I Founder Institute of Landscape Architecture ILA, ETI-I Zurich 2005 I Christophe Girot is Professor at the Chair of Landscape Architecture at the Department of Architecture of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (61-1). His research addresses three fundamental themes: New topological methods in landscape design, new media in landscape analysis and perception, and recent history and theory of landscape design. Emphasis is placed on the fields of action in contemporary large-scale urban landscape with a particular attention given to sustainable design. Christophe Girot received a double Masters in Architecture and in Landscape Architecture at University of California at Berkeley. In 1980, he was named professor at the Department of Landscape Design at the Ecole Nationale Superieure du Paysage in Versailles, France. He later became chairman of that department. Mr. Girot practices landscape architecture in Zurich. His built projects include Invaliden Park in Berlin, as well as several projects in and around Paris. His current projects include the 1000 hectare Landscape Study of Quartu Sant'Elena in Sardinia , a 34 hectare Deposita di Sigirina for AlpTransit in Tessin and a 1 hectar landscape park in Rorschach for the Mirth headquarters on Lake Constance with Gigon-Guyer architects. His work has been published and exhibited in several countries.