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“McHarg’s Entropy, Halprin’s Chance: Representations of Cybernetic Change in 1960s Landscape Architecture,” Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes (2014).

“McHarg’s Entropy, Halprin’s Chance: Representations of Cybernetic Change in 1960s Landscape Architecture,” Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes (2014).

pdf: Lystra_McHargs Entropy Halprins Chance_2014 In the 1960s, responding to numerous economic, environmental, and cultural changes, landscape architects began to engage greater temporal complexity within the design process. The representational innovations of Ian McHarg and Lawrence Halprin were particularly influential during this period, introducing new ways for landscape architects to depict and relate to landscape change. McHarg’s ecological models established a scientific basis for landscape management. Derived from systems ecology, they employed quantitative methods to track change over time, prioritizing predictability and systematic manipulation. Halprin’s open scores defined methods for community decision-making.  Adapted from postmodern dance and experimental music, they amplified uncertainty, creating circumstances in which stasis was unachievable and chance was embraced. Ecological models and open scores were markedly different, but in certain ways they embraced similar ways of seeing.  Their interdisciplinary lineages reflected this similarity: systems ecology and postmodern dance both adopted ideas and methods from postwar cybernetics.  Depicting a systematic temporality in which interacting components composed shifting aggregate wholes, cybernetic approaches enabled landscape architects to incorporate newly complex inter-relational information into drawings.  Yet they also included a tendency to contrast the temporality of systems against their management. Accordingly, cybernetics bequeathed the field of landscape architecture with a…

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