Landscapes - Winter 2019 - LPplus4

ESSAY

BERNARD ST-DENIS

BEAUTY AS
EXPERIENCE

1

1

>FR_LP LA BEAUTÉ COMME
EXPÉRIENCE
EN_"BEAUTY" IS SOMETIMES
DEFINED as the character of that which is
beautiful; and "beautiful" as the character
of a thing that inspires aesthetic pleasure
via sight or sound, and that which is
related to the perception of beauty.
By their tautological nature, such
definitions seem to suggest that beauty
is indefinable. Fortunately, the second
gives us a clearer perspective: when we
say "this is beautiful," we are essentially
talking about the form of the thing in
question (visual or auditory) and the
pleasure it produces. Before going any
farther, we should note that when it comes
to landscapes, both within our discipline
and elsewhere, the visual usually takes
precedence over other factors. 2

PHOTO 1-4 BERNARD ST-DENIS

4 LANDSCAPES PAYSAGES

That double bias, both formalistic and
hedonistic, may seem limiting, but
it corresponds to the most common
understanding of the concept of beauty. 3
It is also grounded in the history of
aesthetics. Whether we realize it or not,
our aesthetic judgments are steeped in
theories advanced in the 18th century.
Despite sometimes-fundamental
divergences,4 these theories tended
to postulate that only formal qualities
matter in the perception of beauty, and
that beauty itself surely corresponds to a
sensation of pleasure.
Can we work within such a narrow
framework? The question is an important
one, because practices in landscape
architecture are motivated, to varying
degrees, by aesthetic intentions. 5 Not
to mention that the concept of beauty is
making a major comeback in our discipline
after having been eclipsed for decades by
explorations of the meaning of landscapes,
whether we are studying, creating or
protecting them. The comeback coincides
with a call to rethink the concept of beauty
in response to the issues of our time,
whether environmental or socio-cultural.6

One of the alternatives to formalism,
according to Susan Herrington,7 is to
consider that beauty is inseparable from
the intended meanings of designed
landscapes within their geographical
and socio-cultural contexts. That is
precisely what is illustrated in this issue by
Tianxin Zhang's article on the aesthetics
of landscapes and gardens in China. In
Chinese culture, beauty is not about a
landscape's ability to please us visually, but
about its capacity to move us by invoking
a shared symbolic imagination. And yet,
such an imagination does not come into
being because a garden, for example,
"represents" nature, but rather because
it shares nature's vitality, variability and
partial indeterminacy, or gaps, where
the imagination has free rein. Within the
imagination itself, the beauty of landscapes
also arises from an intimate sensory
experience and our sense of empathy. In
other words, beauty is experienced far
more than it is seen.
In a similar vein, I am calling for the
recognition of a fact obscured by
visual aesthetics: that we perceive our
environments with our entire body,



Landscapes - Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Landscapes - Winter 2019

TO BEGIN WITH | POUR COMMENCER
WRITERS | NOS RÉDACTEURS
PROLOGUE > FR_ EN_LP
ESSAY | ESSAI LA BEAUTÉ COMME EXPºÉRIENCE
THREE PILLAR CONCEPTS OF CHINESE LANDSCAPE AESTHETICS
LA BEAUTÉ D’UNE INFRASTRUCTURE VIVANTE
SOUS LES ÉTOILES
BEAUTIFUL BOKEH – ACTIVATING THE WINTER LANDSCAPE THROUGH COLOUR
METAMORPHOUS
UNE ÉTRANGE BEAUTÉ
CRITIQUE
I KEEP TAKING THE SAME PHOTO
THE PARTING SHOT | UNE DERNIÈRE SALVE
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - Intro
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - cover1
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - cover2
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 3
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 4
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 5
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 6
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 7
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - TO BEGIN WITH | POUR COMMENCER
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 9
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - WRITERS | NOS RÉDACTEURS
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 11
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 12
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 13
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - PROLOGUE > FR_ EN_LP
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 15
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 16
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 17
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 18
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 19
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - ESSAY | ESSAI LA BEAUTÉ COMME EXPºÉRIENCE
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 21
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 22
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 23
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 24
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - THREE PILLAR CONCEPTS OF CHINESE LANDSCAPE AESTHETICS
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 26
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 27
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - LA BEAUTÉ D’UNE INFRASTRUCTURE VIVANTE
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 29
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 30
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 31
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - SOUS LES ÉTOILES
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 33
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - BEAUTIFUL BOKEH – ACTIVATING THE WINTER LANDSCAPE THROUGH COLOUR
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 35
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 36
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 37
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - METAMORPHOUS
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 39
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 40
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 41
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - UNE ÉTRANGE BEAUTÉ
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 43
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 44
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 45
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 46
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 47
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - CRITIQUE
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 49
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - I KEEP TAKING THE SAME PHOTO
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 51
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 52
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 53
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 54
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 55
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 56
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 57
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 58
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 59
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 60
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - 61
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - THE PARTING SHOT | UNE DERNIÈRE SALVE
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - cover3
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - cover4
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - LPplus1
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - LPplus2
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - LPplus3
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - LPplus4
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - LPplus5
Landscapes - Winter 2019 - LPplus6
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