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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Australia's Inspiring Images

Australia's Inspiring Images: Uluru

It is neither insignificant nor coincidental that we continue to keep the past tied to our present and often design physical objects as an expression of heritage-a reminder from whence the original Australian's came. More than national treasures, they occupy the land with a presence that brings continuity and shape to Australia's culture. While the continent's unique landforms remain in the grasp of reality, their aesthetics can be appreciated and there is yet time to embed them within the psyche of contemporary design. In short, they justify a prime motivation for looking at an important contribution to contemporary design.

Seat of Many Legends

The form is monumental, the details just now being discovered. Full of cracks, fissures, caves and valleys, Uluru is Southern Australia's star landform, an island jewel in the desert sea. Like a monumental throne, it commands the area with regal authority. A satellite photo,that sees all of its sides at once, gives it a different interpretation-a sight inconceivable by the early inhabitants of the area, but one that nonetheless they account for in their unique vision of its character.

According to aboriginal legend, "The world was once a featureless place. None of the places we know existed until creator beings, in the forms of people, plants and animals, traveled widely across the land. Then, in a process of creation and destruction, they formed the landscape as we know it today. AĆ”¹?angu land is still inhabited by the spirits of dozens of these ancestral creator beings which are referred to as Tjukuritja or Waparitja."Absorbing the meaning of this place would take years of co-habiting with its people and listening to their stories. Then, as honest travelers,we would be beholden to follow that up with evaluation by geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, ad infinitum. Alternatively we can appreciate and absorb some of the wonders of Uluru by bringing Uluru to the city. Make it touchable, useful and, of course, meaningful design.

Translate and interpret

There are Uluru features that can be adapted in avant-garde design opportunities. For instance, an entrance that goes from this to this becomes a landmark in a city pocket park and reminds us of what goes on in the outback and why it's so valuable. No! This doesn't diminish it. It celebrates it in ways that won't disturb the local inhabitants who hold original places sacred and express sadness at inconsiderate intrusions.The cost? Working with a rock armature and sandstone, it will last forever, becoming a life-cycle legend itself. And the word legend brings up the notion that teaching the petroglyphs would be a lovely idea, would it not? Putting them in the sandstone, where they originally appear-very nice.

Too many ideas, not enough hands

Perhaps a Society could be born, dedicated to bringing reinterpreted far-flung treasures to the city in a program of planned landscape installations for the enjoyment of all who may never see them and for future inhabitants. Suggesting mining companies, who work mighty wonders in the continent's interior, might want to inspire donations by taking part in the program with-financials, materials or equipment-whatever they feel will expedite. One can hope, with that thought, that anything is possible when good people and talented professionals put action to merit.

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