The phenomenon of self-similarity

Подпись: Fig. 3. Panoramic view of the former sinking pond

The black PLAIN of the former sinking pond resembles a lunar landscape and forms a contrast to the surrounding landscape of the Saarkohlenwald woodlands. The completely open space of about 20 hectares appears as a huge plain lacking human scale, structured only by the water-areas.

image97"In the contours of the water areas of the PLAIN, the phenomenon of self-similarity or fractals, de­scribed by the mathematician B. Mandelbrot, can be found: basic structures recur regardless of the focus or the scale of the field of view (Mandelbrot 1987). The outlines of the water areas recur again and again in the shapes and contours.

The principle of self-similarity can be applied at larger scales, too. When observing the coloured aerial photograph of the PLAIN, it is not possible to distin­guish whether the abstract shapes belong, for exam­ple, to the Lakeland area of Finland or to the PLAIN of the Gottelborn coal mine. Furthermore, the ruderal vegetation of the industrial landscape is similar to a forest if viewed at a larger scale.

Fig. 4. a, b Recurring shapes in the outlines of the water areas

The black PLAIN can be considered as a stage for the “actors” that ex­hibit the phenomenon of self-similarity in their outlines: coal-related mate­rial may be heaped and the development of ruderal vegetation may be ac­celerated by sowing.


Подпись: Fig. 6. Contours of ruderal vegetation (photo: Hamann)

Areas of ruderal vegetation show the same phenomenon of self-similarity in their outlines as the water areas. The bulk heaps that mark the boundary of the water areas are further existing elements within the PLAIN that produce the same formation.

Visitors experience the phenomenon of self-similarity visually. The shapes of the different elements are made perceptible through optical aids comprised of lenses that enlarge the landscape: A catwalk over the PLAIN with fixed magnifying glasses facilitates an overview at a higher level. On the ground level of the PLAIN, lenses are installed as well.

Through this unusual perspective, the aesthetic effects of post-industrial nature are pointed out to the visitor. Post-industrial nature is contempla­tively perceptible as landscape.