OVERLAPS

By Jackson Plumlee

Plumlee_Jackson_Final Project_DIRECTIVE.
Plumlee_Jackson_Final Project_DIRECTIVE.

This project explored Bartram's Garden and its context through routine visits and site-based experiments.  Throughout the semester, a guiding question emerged: How to uncover overlapping narratives between people, plants, objects and place?

My initial experiments focused on the contrasts between the garden, its context, and the edges between them.  How does a manicured colonial botanic garden remain among warehouses, salvage yards, vacant lots, and oil terminals?  I explored that contrast by observing, interacting, and tinkering with the plants and objects that inhabited those environments.

Then I attempted to incorporate stories about people.  After all, people - neighbors, families, cowboys, dog walkers, plein air painters, maintenance workers - inhabit these environments too.  I tried to observe and link them to their environments through time and occupation.  But something felt superficial.  Without knowing them, I couldn’t convey their depth; I had reduced them to scale figures in a drawing.  I started to see that the binary frame of contrasts I projected on the site was obscuring the complexity and interconnected narratives of people, plants, and place.  So I turned back to plants and objects, this time trying to shift from contrasts to blurry overlaps by grafting the two environments together.  
 

I continued to explore overlaps by revisiting mysterious objects I found on site and projecting site photographs and scientific images onto them.  This analog process of collaging the known onto the unknown opened up a bridge of ambiguity and contradiction, where new meanings and narratives could emerge.

Through this process, I realized that projection is a powerful tool for uncovering new narratives and potentials.  In the future, I hope to apply this as an engagement process to give voice to other people's observations, visions, and experiences.  

Plumlee_Jackson_Final Project_DIRECTIVE.

Jackson Plumlee is a first year Landscape Architecture and City Planning student.  His interests lie at the overlaps between people, environmental justice, the built environment, and policy.