Landscape as Weapon

Cultures of Exhaustion and Refusal

John Beck

Landscape as Weapon

John Beck

Distributed for Reaktion Books

208 pages | 20 halftones | 5 1/4 x 8 1/4
Cloth $25.00 ISBN: 9781789143058 Published January 2021 For sale in North and South America only
Once the playgrounds and raw material for the avantgarde, abandoned places and things—decommissioned military sites, postindustrial spaces, contested and forgotten edgelands—are now just as likely to be seen as assets for entrepreneurs or connoisseurs of the authentically worn-out. This is the age of patina, where the material remains of times past—the fields and factories, test sites, back alleys, machines, and statues—are coveted, adored, mourned, and commemorated, as well as sometimes despised. Through an exploration of a wide range of recent film, photography, art, and writing about place, Landscape as Weapon argues that these abandoned sites are a critical arena for debate about the meaning of space and time under late capitalism.
Review Quotes
Stephen Graham, author of "Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers"
"How landscapes and their histories are depicted matters profoundly and it matters politically. . . . In this wonderfully wide-ranging critique, Beck challenges the easy packaging of landscape and its history as tourist 'heritage' sites, film locations, edgy ruins, or icons of national identity. Exploring pastoral landscapes, industrial sprawl, abandoned ruins, bunkers, and much more, Landscape as Weapon is an essential reminder that how we think of places and their pasts is pivotal to how we live now. Essential reading."
Mark Dorrian, professor and Forbes Chair in Architecture, University of Edinburgh
"Beck’s Landscape as Weapon is a tour de force of reflective writing that scrutinizes recent artistic, literary, and cultural negotiations with the infrastructural netherworlds and landscapes of late modernity. Developing his arguments with subtlety, criticality, and wit, Beck uses the claims made upon these spaces of contested memory and experience to skillfully build what amounts to a symptomatology of our contemporary historical imagination."
Ken Worpole, author of "The New English Landscape"
"Beck’s probing disquisition on the multiple ways in which representations of the past in history, literature, film, and photography are coming under renewed questioning, is timely and thought-provoking. . . . Landscape as Weapon ranges well beyond rural nostalgia, fake industrial heritage, and historical misrepresentation, to go into the bleaker territory of ruin porn and dark tourism. Here are the blasted heaths of military firing ranges and nuclear testing grounds, the defensive territories cultivated by proponents and activists of bunker ideology, the continuing memorialization of tyrants, where the old and the new, satellite skies and pastoral latifundia, slums and cultural quarters, all sit alongside each other. These are places where, in the words of novelist William Gibson, 'The future is already here but has just not been evenly distributed.' Beck shines a light on all these conundrums, helpfully so."
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