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Drawing on philosophical writings ranging from the Enlightenment and the Romantics through to the contemporary world - including, among others, Rousseau, Hegel, and Thoreau - I explore the civil dimensions of Cornelia Hahn Oberlander’s gardens and landscape designs. I argue that Oberlander’s landscapes are not merely visual delights; they are civil, humanist works. I survey a selection of her designs, from collaborations with Arthur Erickson and Renzo Piano to her public housing projects and the playgrounds that she designed in-and-around her home of Vancouver, Canada. A secondary argument I make is that Oberlander’s gardens and landscapes are not merely aesthetic objects, but artworks, and they do the work of art as Hegel describes it: showing us something of our human spirit, and specifically our creative and political geist.
The use of script as an aesthetic device is longstanding in Islamic art. Indeed, one of the earliest forms of Islamic art are terracotta oil lamps with text inscribed on their surface.2 These inscriptions are not merely decorative but also reference the light emitted from the lamps as a metaphor for revelation. As I will show, the use of script in Islamic art is not only meant to delight the eye; it is, moreover, a cognitively faceted aesthetic device. Following an overview of script as an aesthetic device in Islamic art, I survey its legacy in the contemporary art world of the Middle East.
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