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On the Aesthetics of Wind Farms
Sarah Rich, 26 May 06

Do you find a wind turbine to be an industrial eyesore or a representation of functional contemporary art? Can a wind farm be objectively labeled ugly or beautiful? A philosophical redaction at Design Observer explores the subjectivity of perceived beauty.

The modernist way to account for the objective basis of beauty — to the extent that it has any objectivity — is the design philosophy of functionalism. "Form follows function" means beauty is a quality that indicates a utility or efficiency of the form as a means to an end. Functionality is enhanced by maximizing efficiency.

Justin Good, a philosopher, professor and author, lays his investigation out formulaically, and leads us through ten steps to the conclusion that "although they can exhibit aspects of ugliness, wind farms are objectively beautiful."

via: Coudal Partners

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While wind turbines can indeed be "beautiful", I'd rather not see them - they do not add to the beauty of the natural landscape.

However, I'd caution against adhereing to philisophical descriptions of beauty such as the above, as the very same description can apply to an oil drilling platform, drilling rig, and electrical distribution plant. After all, "beauty" is in the eye of the beholder... isn't it?

Posted by: Night on 26 May 06

the function of a wind form, it's impact on the world is the cause of its beauty. industrial forms can be beautiful, like drilling rigs, but that is separate from the kind of functional beauty that this post describes.
wind farms are beautiful in their impact on the world. its the invisible that holds the beauty.

Posted by: Kevin Jones on 26 May 06

To me wind farms seem like a graceful vision of the future. I'd much rather see a row of wind turbines graceful turning out electricity than the ugly cooling towers of a nuclear power plant. Understandably some people feel that wind farms are a blight on the landscape - perhaps offshore wind power is the best way to compromise between the two points of view.

Posted by: Wind Power News on 27 May 06

I just can't see how anyone can think wind farms are anything but the ugliest things man has produced since civilisation began. There are huge campaigns to say otherwise but at root these tend to be funded by the industrial/renewables complex in the same way as organisations such as Frends of the Earth and WWF now are. This is not a question of philosophy this is about our environment being destroyed by money grabbing wind farm companies. Anyone who is for this does not love the environment.

Posted by: Margaret Lyons on 29 May 06

Margaret, you're painting with a very broad brush. Unfortunately, we're living in a time when sometimes all we have is a choice among different kinds of ugliness. Do we have the maturity to accept the "ugliness" of wind farms, to avoid the ugliness of strip mines, nuclear proliferation and a destroyed climate?

Posted by: David Foley on 29 May 06

Strip mines and nuclear plants have tiny footprints. To meet the current government targets (let alone that of the greens) we will need 70,000 wind turbines in England. At 5 to a square mile that is 14,000 sq miles of our landscape destoyed.

Posted by: Margaret Lyons on 30 May 06

Wind farms have a tiny footprint in terms of land use - a few square metres per turbine - leaving plenty of space for sheep and cattle. The footprint is also small when it comes to decomissioning - just undo a few bolts and they're gone, unlike strip mines or power stations.

And wind farms probably will be gone at some point in the future, when we've found something better. In the meantime, they seem a very low impact solution to me. They may rob us of a nice view for a while (dependng on your sense of beauty!) but they can hardly be said to destroy the environment.

Posted by: Richard on 30 May 06

Sheep and cows don't care about views. People do. Also the economy of much/all of rural Britain is dependent on people coming to look at these views. You are talking about creating a wasteland of much of rural England. Some city people might not give a damn about that but plenty of others do. They will prevail.

Posted by: Margaret Lyons on 31 May 06



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