What To List

With unforgiving creative block, I spent most of the weekend contemplating on my media thing. Too consumed by the vision of what to film, I realised I had created boundaries that constricted what was being asked of me, hindering and stopping the flow of how initiating ideas with creativity. Staring out the train, I mulled over the possible and accessible things I could deconstruct. As I realised all my interests were vast, I needed to take this one step at a time. Boundaries, I thought, what is a possible materialisation of this? It was then I began looking at fences.

With feedback from today’s class, I began investigating the basic properties of what a fence fundamentally is. Deconstructing the fence and researching it without worrying was the first step, which I began by eliminating the media-making process (that is, what I should video) from my mind. A few key questions and statements I began diving into:

    • What is a fence?
    • What is the relationship and role it has between the public and private?
    • What and how does it create boundaries?
    • What is it’s aesthetic looks and how can they appear?
    • What is the history of fences?
    • What is the fences purpose?
    • How do they contain space and transition?
    • What are the liminal boundaries and thresholds the serve? (Adrian’s suggestion)
    • What are the different kinds of fences?
    • How are fences made, erected or produced?
    • What ideas of fences as boundaries appeal to me?

The Textual Definition of a Fence

A fence is a freestanding structure designed to restrict or prevent movement across a boundary. Fences are generally distinguished from walls by the lightness of their construction and their purpose. Walls are usually barriers made from solid brick or concrete, blocking vision as well as passage, while fences are used more frequently to provide visual sectioning of spaces.

Fences By Function

    • Agricultural Fencing: to keep livestock in and/or predators out
    • Privacy Fencing: to provide privacy and security
    • Temporary Fencing: to provide safety, security, and to direct movement; wherever temporary access control is required, especially on building and construction sites
    • Perimeter Fencing: to prevent trespassing or theft and/or to keep children and pets from wandering away
    • Decorative Fencing: to enhance the appearance of a property, garden or other landscaping
    • Boundary Fencing: to demarcate a piece of real property
    • Newt/Amphibian/Turtle/Drift Fencing: a low fence of plastic sheeting or similar materials to restrict movement of amphibians or reptiles
    • Pest-Exclusion fence: to impose and provide safety to those pets and their surroundings
    • Pool Fence: to separate a pool or body of water to provide safety, controlled access and privacy  
    • Snow Fence: to force windblown, drifting snow to accumulate in a desired space
    • A Balustrade/Railing: a kind of fence to prevent people from falling over the edge, for example, on a balcony, stairway (see railing system), roof, bridge, or elsewhere near a body of water, places where people stand or walk and the terrain is dangerously inclined

Fences by Construction

    • Brushwood Fencing: a fence made using wires on either side of brushwood, to compact the brushwood material together
    • Chain-link Fencing: wire fencing made of wires woven together
    • Close Boarded Fencing: strong and robust fence constructed from morticed posts, arris rails and vertical feather edge boards
    • Concrete Fence: easy to install and highly durable
    • Ha-ha OR Sunken Fence: a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier while preserving views
    • Hurdle Fencing: made from moveable sections
    • Palisade OR Stakewall: a fence or wall made from wooden stakes or tree trunks and used as a defensive structure or enclosure
    • Picket Fences: generally a waist-high, painted, partially decorative fence
    • Post-and-Rail Fencing: a fence that incorporates posts and rails
    • Roundpole Fences: similar to post-and-rail fencing but more closely spaced rails, typical of Scandinavia and other areas rich in raw timber
    • Slate Fencing: a type of palisade made of vertical slabs of slate wired together, commonly used in parts of Wales
    • Split-Rail Fences: made of timber, often laid in a zig-zag pattern, particularly in newly settled parts of the United States and Canada
    • Stockade Fence:  a variation of the picket fence that is typically 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m) high with pickets placed adjacent to one another with no space between. This type of fence is commonly used for privacy.
    • Vinyl Fencing: a fence made using synthetic plastics, such as vinyl (PVC), polypropylene, nylon, polythene (polyethylene) or from various recycled plastics
    • Wattle Fencing: of split branches woven between stakes
    • Wood-panel Fencing: a fence made from wood panels
    • Wrought Iron Fencing: made from tube steel, also known as ornamental iron
    • Cactus Fence: a kind of hedge made of closely spaced cactus plants, sometimes with barbed wire or wood interwoven with the cacti.
    • Hedgerows Fence: a kind of hedge made by living shrubs intertwined through hedge laying 
    • Live Fencing: a kind of hedge made by the use of live woody species for fences
    • Turf Mounds: mounds used in semiarid grasslands such as the western United States or Russian steppes
    • Dry-stone Wall OR Rock Fence: a kind of wall fence that is often agricultural
    • Wire Fences: a fence made of different wires, including smooth wire and barbed wire
    • Electric Fence: a fence that is woven and laced with electricity
    • Woven Wire Fencing: comes in many designs, from fine chicken wire to heavy mesh Sheep Fence or Ring Fence
    • Welded Wire Mesh Fence: a steel fence using wire strands welded together to form a high strength mesh

A Brief History of Fences

In medieval Europe from the 9th and 15th centuries, servitudes were discovered as legal arrangements of land use arising out of private agreements. “Under the feudal system, most land in England was cultivated in common fields, where peasants were allocated strips of arable land that were used to support the needs of the local village or manor. By the sixteenth century the growth of population and prosperity provided incentives for landowners to use their land in more profitable ways, dispossessing the peasantry. Common fields were aggregated and enclosed by large and enterprising farmers—either through negotiation among one another or by lease from the landlord—to maximize the productivity of the available land and contain livestock. Fences redefined the means by which land is used, resulting in the modern law of servitudes.”

Cultural Values of Fences

The value of fences and the metaphorical significance of a fence, both positive and negative, has been extensively utilized throughout western culture. A few examples include:

Good fences make good neighbors.” – Robert Frost
A good neighbour is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.” – Arthur Baer
There is something about jumping a horse over a fence, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps it’s the risk, the gamble. In any event it’s a thing I need.” – William Faulkner
Fear is the highest fence.” – Dudley Nichols
To be fenced in is to be withheld.” – Kurt Tippett
What have they done to the earth?/ What have they done to our fair sister?/ Ravaged and plundered/ and ripped her/ and bit her/ stuck her with knives/ in the side of the dawn/ and tied her with fences/ and dragged her down.” – Jim Morrison, of The Doors
Don’t Fence Me In” – Cole Porter
A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.” – Marilyn Monroe

I will continue to keep opening out to fences and continue to think through fences and their description within the world. In the meantime, stay posted!

(Fence pun, oh.)

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