Landscape – Concept and different meanings

We explain what a landscape is and where this term comes from. Also, what are the different meanings of landscape.

The word landscape has its origin in French.

What is landscape?

The concept of landscape is used both by geography, by art, and even by literature. Although all these meanings are different, they have as a common basis that we find one or more observers who refer to an area of ​​land, generally standing out for characteristics that make it stand out (whether positive or negative).

The word landscape has its origin in French, in which country refers to a certain region or country, while aje is a suffix used in the French language, used to give “action” to a certain word.

Different meanings of landscape

Landscape - Landscaper
A landscaper intervenes in a space in order to make it aesthetically more beautiful.
  • Landscape in geography. In geography, the landscape is defined as a «basic geographical document», that is, it is the basic element through which we will work later. They are surfaces in which different elements come into play with each other, in a given geographical space. In them we can find biotic elements (all living beings), abiotic (those that do not have life) and anthropic (those that are the result of human interaction with nature).
  • Cultural landscape. On the other hand, we find what is called a cultural landscape. In this case, it is not a mere natural geographic space, but it is the human agent which modifies its environment. Generally, we speak of a cultural landscape when a certain space contains a great historical background, or significant activities for a country or region have been developed there. UNESCO or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization grants specific distinctions called “World Heritage Sites”. An example of this is the Cultural Landscape of Sintra, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful architectural constructions, located in Portugal.
  • Landscape in art. As for art, we can say that the landscape began to have crucial importance from the Renaissance. It is the Renaissance artists who lay the foundation so that later in the 17th century Holland it is considered as an end in itself and not a mere background. Although we find certain antecedents in the painting of a religious nature, these were only mere companions, since the purpose was totally different. Different artistic movements will follow this trend, such is the case of Impressionism in France, for example. In these cases, art already appears as an aesthetic purpose and not the representation of deities or mythical forces, which only manifested the fear of man in the face of an unknown world.
  • Landscapers. There is a specific profession that is dedicated to landscape and to its modification for aesthetic purposes, they are landscapers or landscape architects, depending on where we are. His work consists of the intervention of a certain space in order to make it more aesthetically beautiful. Many homeowners, and especially the most luxurious ones, hire landscapers to decorate their parks in a harmonious and beautiful way. They resort to resources such as flora, fountains, among many other elements.

As we said at the beginning of the text, the landscape presupposes an observer and something to observe, generally an extension of territory with its particular characteristics. However, the observer is not a mere passive subject who only “receives” what surrounds him in a sensitive way.

The observer, by the simple fact of being an observer, intervenes on reality, making it his own subjective experience. Therefore, we can affirm that in the face of the same landscape, no observer will have the same experience, although they can technically observe the same thing.