Brendan Harmon

Point Cloud Aesthetics

10 June 2022

Rosedown Rockery

Point Cloud Aesthetics

Paper: Point Cloud Aesthetics

Point clouds – sets of x, y, and z coordinates – are an emerging medium for representing landscapes. Point clouds generated from laser scans or photogrammetry are algorithmically mediated, indexical encodings of space and color for an instance in time. While previous research has demonstrated the technical viability of point clouds for the empirically oriented practice of landscape architecture, the theoretical implications of this medium for the artistic aspect of our discipline still need to be explored. As a medium, point clouds are unique in terms of indexicality, iconicity, symbolism, and contingency and can be used to represent the dynamic character of landscape in new ways. The point clouds of Rosedown Plantation and Hilltop Arboretum demonstrate the aesthetic, semiotic, and creative implications of this medium for landscape architecture. The point cloud of Rosedown Plantation captures the dynamic character of landscape in ephemera like seasonal color, blossoms, leaf litter, and bare branches. The time series of point clouds of Hilltop Arboretum records changes such as shifting palettes of light and color, the growth and senescence of plants, and corresponding fluxes in biomass and carbon. Through representational strategies such as sectional elevations, transects, time series, and scatter plots, point clouds can hybridize empirical and artistic understanding of landscape.

Team: Brendan Harmon & Nicholas Serrano