SCHOLARSHIP


THE PANORAMIC MODE: IMMERSIVE MEDIA AND THE LARGE PARKS MOVEMENT

Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Landscape Architecture in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2018.

Doctoral Committee:
Professor M. Elen Deming, Chair
Professor D. Fairchild Ruggles
Associate Professor David L. Hays
Dr. Amy L. Powell

Abstract. This dissertation traces the nineteenth-century emergence of large urban park landscapes within a visual culture defined by spectacle. In addition to ameliorating insalubrious urban conditions and boosting real estate markets, the landscapes of the large parks movement participated in an expanded visual and discursive field that included immersive media. This insight follows from the theoretical position that landscape is itself an entity that is produced in part through representational practice. Case studies from Europe and the United States show that immersive representation defined nineteenth-century visual and media culture and shaped period understandings of geography, nature, and the urban milieu. The panorama, a 360-degree painting rendered at the scale of architecture to deliver virtual experience at the scale of landscape, epitomized a period interest in bending space and time through the production and consumption of immersive spectacles. The landscapes of the large parks movement participated alongside panoramas and panoramic media in a culture of perception that elided representations with “real” places, and together they expressed the full scope of a visual and discursive field defined by spectacle.

The dissertation asks how the immersive coordination of optical and somatic perception influenced period understandings of urban space and place and how such understandings coalesced in the actual space of the city as park landscapes. Chapter One establishes the study’s topical, theoretical, and methodological objectives. Chapter Two deepens the study’s theoretical framework. Chapter Three demonstrates the cultural reach of panoramic media and its significance for popular understandings of geography, nature, and designed landscapes. Chapter Four analyzes the use of panoramic images and strategies in designs for and representations of specific large park landscapes, including Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, London’s Regent’s Park, Manhattan’s park spaces, and the Parisian park system. Chapter Five charts the development of Chicago’s 1869 park-boulevard system alongside that city’s unrecognized activity as a center for panoramic production and consumption in order to show that the system functioned as a panoramic device for seeing the city as a whole. Because the study treats both urban park landscapes and panoramas as representations that capitalize on the workings of perceptual psychology, Chapter Six draws on a body of visual theory that is informed by psychoanalysis in order to review the dissertation’s findings and distill new insights for interpreting and curating historic places today.

CHAPTER STRUCTURE

PREFACE

CHAPTER ONE | Introduction

CHAPTER TWO | Landscape in the Age of the World Picture

CHAPTER THREE | An Immersive Multimedia Landscape Construct

CHAPTER FOUR | Panoramic Representations of Large Park Landscapes

CHAPTER FIVE | Panoramic City: Parks, Cycloramas, and the Shape of Chicago

CHAPTER SIX | The Panoramic Mode

TABLES

FIGURES

WORKS CITED

APPENDIX A | List of the Nine Legislative Bills Establishing Chicago’s 1869 Park and Boulevard System

APPENDIX B | James Turrell’s Hand Annotations to Marcel Minnaert’s Text on Celestial Vaulting or “The Apparent Flattening of the Celestial Sphere”

APPENDIX C | Transcription of Robert Barker’s 1787 Patent Application