November 12, 2005

"The Aesthetic Dissonance of Industrial Wind Machines"

Here's an excerpt from a thoughtful essay about the aesthetics of industrial wind turbines, "The Aesthetic Dissonance of Industrial Wind Machines," by Jon Boone, at the online journal Contemporary Aesthetics. (Click on the title of this post for the complete essay.)
Perhaps only the US highway system has the scope and scale to match the aesthetic pretensions for industrial windpower. It certainly has transformed the landscape, as well as much of the culture, penetrating into nearly every aspect of life on the continent. Moreover, its functional success has allowed it to become part of the accepted natural background, much in the way Prof. Saito hopes for the windpower machines. People generally take the interstates for granted these days. Still, despite its ubiquity, the American highway system should present many "thick value" difficulties for philosophers of aesthetics. These difficulties were rather artfully exposed by Godfrey Reggio in his film, Koyaanisqatsi. Here, Reggio shows our highways as foreboding corridors of frenetic technology in service to unbridled consumption, scarring the earth with terrifying consequence and for no compelling reason. He could just as well been documenting industrial windpower, pointing out similarities with factory farms and noting how each corrupts the economy, diminishes the ecosystem, and blights the landscape.
And from one of the footnotes:
... photograph taken several miles away from four of the twenty 375 foot wind turbines atop a 2700 foot ridge over the town of Meyersdale, PA. But the height and elevation are only part of the story. The differentially moving propeller blades dominate the visual experience, taking away the sense of the mountain itself.
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