Detecting Latent Landscapes

By Fatma Neyran Turan

This thesis concerns itself with latent landscapes. Latent landscapes, in this discussion, are landscapes with active layers that are not always apparent, but become visible over time or by means of detection techniques. While in contemporary readings in architecture we see the concept of landscape expanding with new interpretations, I speculate in the thesis that the temporal and political aspects of the concept are not explicitly explored. My use of the term latency is somewhat similar to the use of the term in psychoanalytic theory. In such theory, the phrase “latent dream” or “latent content” refers to the collection of dream-thoughts, which are psyche’s hidden and repressed desires. While the psyche is unaware of these dream-thoughts which are kept in the unconscious mind, in a dream they are distorted and transformed by the mind to avoid anxiety and examination. This reinterpretation results with a “manifest dream” or “manifest content”, which is the dream that the sleeper remembers.

As if tracing the relationship between latent contents and manifest dreams, I try in this thesis to decode the connections between latent landscapes and their spatial manifestations or consequences. I call these spatial consequences, which are embedded in urban and political conditions, strata and I argue that there are durational lapses between activities and their detection or activities and their after-effects. I pursue this by researching two types of terrains that harbor latent landscapes: (1) Nuclear Landscapes [The Nevada Test Site] and (2) Resource Landscapes [The North Sea]. While each case study identifies the far-reaching temporal and political boundaries of a given site, I argue that these sites also emphasize the need for new definitions and terminologies in architectural and urban vocabularies.

The thesis employs two complementary texts, one visual and one verbal. The maps prepared from research data constitute a second text, and are to be read in conjunction with the written text. While the landscapes analyzed also use various detection techniques for their own activities, for my argument those techniques become the evidence of stratifications.