A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY ON NATURAL LANDSCAPE COGNITION
 
Ohta, H., Kansai University of International Studies, Japan
 
In the field of landscape aesthetics the over-emphasis on positivist methodology has limited the benefits to be obtained from the study of individual's personal experiences. On the other hand, phenomenology is directly concerned with such subjective experiences. The present study aims to examine how a person interprets landscapes with using phenomenological methodology. Natural landscape cognition through photography was investigated upon 16 participants by means of in-depth interviews. The contents of the photos were all Japanese natural landscapes. After qualitative analysis, 11 main categories of cognitive aspects were extracted, and a common structure in the cognition of natural landscapes was identified: encountering each landscape evoked each participant's memories and background, and filtered through these influences, imagination/association, impression, aesthetic judgments, and meaning and attractiveness of nature played their roles in the evaluation of each landscape. Photographs in contrast with real-life scenes and comparison between landscapes also affected cognition. Moreover, changes within/between sessions occurred, leading both subtle and dynamic changes of landscape cognition as a whole. Thus, it was indicated that each person had idiosyncrasies that affected each particular transaction occurring between the person and the landscapes.