The Suburban Front Garden: A spatial entity determined by social and natural processes (NIRSA) Working Paper Series. No. 41
Slater, Eamonn and Peillon, Michel (2008) The Suburban Front Garden: A spatial entity determined by social and natural processes (NIRSA) Working Paper Series. No. 41. NIRSA - National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis.
In this article, we argue that the physical structure of the front garden and its ecosystem is determined by an ensemble of diverse social and natural processes. The essential social form is that of visuality,- an abstract compositional force which provides conventions for assessing objects but also for reshaping their surface countenance and establishing their location within the garden. Accordingly, the social processes of visuality are materially realised in the labour processes of gardening, while their consumption is mediated through the concrete process of gazing. The identified social processes include the prospect, aesthetic and panoptic dimensions of visuality. Labour conceives and creates them, while the physical structures and the natural processes reproduce and maintain them beyond the production time attributed to gardening. But they are increasingly undermined by the natural tendency of the plant ecosystem to grow. Consequently, the essential contradiction of the front garden is how the laws and tendencies of the plant ecosystem act as a countertendency to the social forms of visuality. This paper shows that beneath the surface appearance, there exists complex relationships between nature and society in this space we call the suburban front garden.
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