Contemporary Design

Terra Cognita by Alejandra Alarcón

Through an exercise of filtering and curating, Terra Cognita is a landscape composed of multiple fragments encountered while walking around different locations in Finland. The objects reflect on the mistaken idea of the intact landscape and the far from natural scenery that surrounds us.

Terra Incognita: (unknown land) is a term used in cartography for regions that have not been documented.
Pieces of nature, stones, leafs etc. on a pedestal

Many things around the landscape interest me, the most intriguing is how the landscape is a construct, an idea, as geographer D.W. Meining would put it better “Any landscape is composed not only of what lies before your eyes, but what lies within our heads”.

It’s hard to define the landscape, it can be so many things but still there are some visuals that remain constant, the natural objects, such as plants or hills, the artifacts like farms or windmills and the technical installations such as docks or metal wires. The landscape is just an abstraction of these things, we go through the creative act of filtering and learn to recognize the landscape: it’s all about perception.

We are still dreaming of looking for the ideal landscape, this intact image that does not exist anymore. Everything has been discovered, colonized, walked, feeding on the idea of appropriating nature. The Anthroposcenic landscape has become the new normal, it’s hard to distinguish between the altered and “natural” state.

Image of an exhibition setup "Terra Cognita" where found pieces of nature are set as an installation on pedestals

I have built my own landscape, filtering and curating while walking across Anthroposcenic environments. Reflecting on how I can break the idea of a single “image”, gathering different fragments that I encounter.

This project is a manifest of the absence of the ideal landscape, where everything has already been shaped by humans. Terra Cognita is an installation where I share my walking memories, inviting the audience to wander around and interact with these familiar grounds.

Sticks, rocks, leafs and other natural objects on a white pedestal

Meinig, D. W. (1976). The Beholding Eye: Ten Versions of the Same Scene. Landscape Architecture, 66(1), 47–54.

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