Knotted ropes, rings, lattices and lace: Retrofitting biodiversity into the cultural landscape

  • Newton Harrison
  • Helen Mayer Harrison


The title of this lecture refers to the forms or patterns that we, as artists, have proposed or used to reintroduce biodiversity to places where nothing was left or to make connections between those special places where a biodiverse landscape still exists. These forms were developed out of considerable experience in recognizing existing or constructing new patterns. It was Dr. Wilhelm Barthlott who suggested that we might be extending the notion of saving hot spots by creating these new patterns and thus recontextualized our work in terms of ecological theory and invited us to speak.


Brown Coal Cultural Landscape Green Heart Cultural Icon Temperate Rain Forest 
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  1. 1.
    We tentatively define a stability as a new eco-cultural pattern emerging in a region that could help to resolve or reverse the loss of cultural diversity and biological diversity. A stability depends upon creation of complex forms that establish new boundary conditions and economic and ecological opportunities. While the region is in the process of compensating for that which may have been lost, it also must contain sufficient feedback loops to protect it from future loss of coherence under political and economic pressures.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    We define icon in its original and complex sense. For instance, a carefully constructed religious icon, one of St. Francis, showing him wearing the dress of the clergy and in relationship to animals, has an aesthetic of its own, an explicit narrative, referential to the bible. Moreover, a far more complex narrative is referred to within which the biblical narrative is nested. The whole icon carries within it codes of behavior which are suggestive as to how one might conduct a life. For the St. Francis icon, a written narrative beyond the title is not necessary. It is presumed sufficiently well known. A sustainability icon has many of these same qualities compressed within it; however, a brief text must be supplied as the narrative cannot be presumed to be known. The eight principal sustainability icons in the Green Heart Vision establish the limits to growth on the ground, but within these limits all elements can remain dynamic. Exactly how and how much can only be touched on in these brief comments. Sustainability in The Green Heart Vision is the outcome of enacting the stability on the ground. Its form is expressed in the eight icons. The Green Heart Sustainability Icons repeat the same specific shape but with vastly different content. The space is flexible, having only the requirement of continuity of surface area.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    There is an ongoing discussion as to the minimum space needed for eco-systemic survival, which differs vastly for primary producers and predators, but since even the very simplest of food chains require both, it is the space for the survival of predators that must be the determinant.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Newton Harrison
    • 1
  • Helen Mayer Harrison
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLa JollaUSA

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