From Eye to Heart: Exterior Spaces Explored and Explained

A preliminary edition of a new landscape history book authored by Dr. Jon Burley, FASLA, and Dr. Trisha Machemer has been released by Cognella Publishers (San Diego, CA).

Front cover of the From Eye to Heart: Exterior Spaces Explored and Explained book, containing a painting by Dr. Burley of Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain), China (copyright ©2007 Jon Bryan Burley, all rights reserved, used by permission).
Cover for From Eye to Heart: Exterior Spaces Explored and Explained containing a painting by Dr. Burley of Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain), China. Copyright ©2007 Jon Bryan Burley, all rights reserved, used by permission.

A preliminary edition of a new landscape history book authored by Dr. Jon Burley, FASLA, and Dr. Trisha Machemer has been released by Cognella Publishers (San Diego, CA). From Eye to Heart: Exterior Spaces Explored and Explained has been a massive undertaking of 18 months, 27 chapters, and over 500 pages in the first edition, which will be published later in the year.

We decided to look for opportunities to produce our own book after realizing that none of the current textbooks contained the full content of the Integrated Social Science class, which is taken by students of many majors other than landscape architecture. The approach to the course takes a cultural environmental design perspective, whereas other MSU social science professors teach other sections of the course from a cultural geography or cultural anthropology perspective.

For some landscape architecture students, it may be the only history class they take. In addition to exercises for students to study and learn about landscape, the class weaves in architecture, city planning, construction and materials technology, environmental science, environmental psychology, cultural geography, anthropology, painting, and sculpture.

The cost of copyright images supplied by others can discourage publishers from producing history books. However, the vast collection of our own photographs and drawings from around the world meant they did not need to rely upon images supplied by others. The substantial cost savings realized by the use of around 500 of our own images helped support the publisher’s interest in the book.

It has taken 40 years to travel to most places of importance and compile enough materials for such a book, including a recent visit to Kyoto, Japan this last spring. Students seem to really appreciate the first-hand perspective on many of the places discussed in the book, and we hope that the information in the book and lectures, which is often not mentioned in other texts, brings informed insight to the students’ learning experience.

Much of the book is written in an unusual style: First person. In the interest of avoiding a standard, dry textbook discourse, personal views, opinions, and ideas are offered about architecture, art, cities, and other subjects. The landscape perspective may occasionally be surprising, as in the case of the assessment of some projects by Mies van de Rohe and Le Corbusier as “not so good.”

On a personal note, I might add that if you have written a book, you have the right to criticize us, but if not, wait until your book is published first. I learned that from Mike Lin, who would not have people criticize his or his student’s drawings—make your drawing first, then you can criticize.

Even though the book is over 500 pages, Dr. Machemer and I both know that much has been left out and we are already considering a second edition—after a breather from the 80-hour weeks required to make this publication happen! As I am in the book writing phase of my career, there may be more on the way after that.

I have several more textbook topics I would like to explore before I retire or die on the job. These topics include research methods for landscape architecture investigation, qualitative wildlife planning and design, technical planting design, quantitative visual quality, an update to Albe Munson’s book on landscape construction, and landscape architecture teaching methods.

Several people have suggested I write about my 200 paintings and 1,100 drawings from around the world, but I would prefer to have more purpose or detailed explanation before publishing books about my own art.

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