Michael Jackson as Landscape Architecture
Taking inspiration from Michael Jackson — that creature from a future “world of pure synthesis, pure self-creation“ — let's fantasize the modified body becoming a legitimate site for landscape architecture.
Landscape design begins to infuse recombinant DNA techniques into the creative process. To be licensed as landscape architects, interns must be well-versed in advanced genetic engineering. To be able to deform and reconstruct, they may even be required to get a medical degree.
Urban agriculture then takes a provocative turn. We become our own self-fertilizing, mobile edible estates. Locavores measure distances not in miles but in feet and inches, if not at all. Transporting food achieves zero carbon footprint, which becomes negative if the pollution-eating properties of our neo-organs get factored in.
But what of our food service sectors, such as restaurants and supermarkets and the infrastructure that supports them? What of the clothing, personal grooming and home furnishing industries? Will we dwell as usual? No, the urban grid needs to be radically reconfigured.
And what of our parks? There are still large ones, but an instant Central Park can be constituted anywhere and anytime there's a large crowd, for instance, during rush hour traffic on the “streets” or inside/outside the Olympic stadium watching the fireworks of the opening and closing ceremonies. It's the parkless park. Organize a rooftop “barbecue” summer party, and a temporary rooftop garden in the form of blobby geo-bodies gets landscaped. In other words, parks and gardens are still a physical manifestation of urban sociability and diversion.
One thing remains unchanged as well. The body, like gardens, is still a terrain manipulated by the demands of style, fashion and pretense. The body, like gardens, is the site and object of consumption. Grooming your GMed anatomy, like gardening in the aristocratic landscape of Versailles or in the cul-de-sac frontyards of Orange County, is a tactical game of social one-upmanship. No one wants to be caught dead using cheap turf or with a dry patch or having less alterations than Michael Jackson, unless it's considered au courant in your socioeconomic milieu.
In any case, if we find ourselves landless in the crowded city of tomorrow, perhaps amidst the future ultramegametropolis of New Tokyo-Beijing-Shanghai-Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Manila, we can cultivate our own epidermic Eden.