By Richard Weston
Miniature and Panorama: Vogt Landscape Architects, Projects 2000-06.
By Günther Vogt et al.
Lars Müller Publishers, 2006. 576pp. £39.90
This thick wedge of a book on the Swiss landscape architect Günther Vogt is filled with colour and a clamour of texts and images. Presumably the aim is to offer an allusive, multifaceted view of his work and ideas, and the result feels more like a website than a traditional book.
Vogt was the partner of the celebrated, prodigiously productive Dieter Kienast, who died young in 1998. Kienast’s monographs were famously restrained, with a let-the-work-speak-for-itself combination of elegant drawings and large black-and-white photographs, accompanied by matter-of-fact descriptions.
In their place we get a bewildering array of material by ‘artist friends’ and by Vogt himself – numerous short texts and photographic essays as well as project documentation. The linking theme is our relationship with nature, with Vogt’s schemes occupying only half of the 576 pages.
While there is much of interest, I found this medium-is-the-message presentation slightly annoying.
Among the artists’ contributions, Hamish Fulton’s ‘paper walks’ and Olafur Eliasson’s photographs of Vogt’s rainforest at Zurich zoo seem to me a waste of space. Christian Vogt offers some pleasant photographic ‘miniatures and panoramas’ of the projects, while Olaf Unverzart’s pictorial essay, entitled ‘The Production of Plants’, contains several memorable images, including the bizarre sight of an auditorium-like auction room in which racks of plants are mechanically paraded before hundreds of buyers.