The Park-Machine

When we go to a park, we say we get intimate with nature. When we are sitting on the grass of Washington Square Park, or playing Chinese chess on the rock of Columbus Park, our eyes are fulfilled by green, our noses are filled of fresh smell, and our skins are touched by the sunshine. We feel comfortable and happy in nature.

However, can we actually call a park natural? Is it on the side of physis, instead of poiesis, according to Marx and ancient philosophers?

Last summer, I went to a Chinese national park with my dad, where nobody lives except for a few shepherds. When I saw the fabulous grassland, I immediately stepped on it and ran around. After a while, an administrator who worked there saw me, and came to stop me immediately. He asked me to walk on the road instead of the grass. I was confused, we can do whatever we want on the grass in Washington Square Park, why can’t I walk on the grass there? My father told me, the grasses in the parks are artificial – they are designed for people’s steps and activities; but the grasses in nature, in real nature, they are delicate and fragile and could be harmed seriously from human activities. 


The natural grassland in Xinjiang, China.

I started to think, how much of the nature in Washington Square Park is actually natural, and how much of it is artificial?

American people like to sit on grasses, enjoy the sunshine or rest under a tree, so most of the parks in New York have exactly what they want – grasses, trees, fountains, benches. Chinese people like to sit on chairs and play card games or chess, so Columbus Park has lots of tables, chairs, but much less grasses and benches.


People playing cards in Columbus Park.

Parks in New York are actually designed by humans, according to the needs and habits of residents nearby. We create parks; we create the nature we need. When we need nature, we don’t actually go to nature; we go to the nature we create for ourselves. These parks are on the side of poiesis, instead of physis.

These parks are actually product of humans: we use grass seeds from nature, change their genes and recreate it with labor, then we create a park with use value to humans. It also has four causes, like other machines humans create – material, formal, final, and efficient.

So we come this surprising conclusion – these parks, where we enjoy nature, are actually machines created by humans. They are designed to be used by humans. They are artificial nature, which are created according to our desire and need. 

——–Sabrina Hao

~ by Sabrina on September 25, 2013.

5 Responses to “The Park-Machine”

  1. I was really intrigued by this title and the picture of cute old people would make me have to read it .

  2. I’d go back to this blog because the image at the top captured me. It looks peaceful and I have a background in horseback riding.

  3. The bright blue sky and the green plains really contrast each other well, and draw my interest. Good Job!

  4. Soyoon – the color of the sky is so vibrant and surreal that it makes me stop and take a closer look at it

  5. Beautiful pics that look very personal and seem to capture interactions/meanings. Also, not too long! Which is awesome.

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