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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
How do we use walking as an art form? How do we use walking as an art form?

Dalziel + Scullion

Breath Taking

2005

One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A photographic billboard project responding to the rural wind farm debate

Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion are two Scottish artists who have worked collaboratively since 1993. They were commissioned by Deveron Projects in 2005 to produce a nationwide artwork in response to the planning proposal to introduce over 200 wind farms to rural Britain.

As alternative energies are sought in order to improve environmental sustainability, humans continue to make their mark on the landscape. The development of wind farms in rural settings provides an opportunity to create a sustainable energy resource, but at what expense? Both the rural economy and the rural aesthetic are subject to change from this, as well as our relationship with the natural world in general. In addition, the ever-growing global economy unveils a paradox which requires both material consumption and sustainable energy to continue developing.

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Dalziel + Scullion consider both the local and global impact of such debates through the universal nature of mankind's relationship with landscape, and the radical alterations our presence produces in our environment. Throughout our development as a species, we have mastered the land through agriculture and begun a process of urban sprawl, which also depends upon rural areas to provide space for dams and commercial forestry. Through the lens of the 'Romantic Sublime,' Matthew and Louise consider the grandeur, mystery and power of both nature and the landscape, though in relation to the considerably potent human presence. The photographic images that were produced illustrate the magnitude of the Scottish landscape that surrounds Huntly, and also document the construction of various wind turbines. The machines appear in the familiar landscape as monolithic beasts of burden - their presence is equally as foreboding as the landscape and constitutes, for many, a scar upon its natural beauty, while for others, they are a grand symbol of human progress that benefits both ourselves and the environment. As the notion of the Romantic Sublime contrasts the finitude and smallness of man in distinction to the power of nature, a human is presented in one of the Breath Taking images as a tiny figure, dwarfed not only by nature, but his own mark on the world - our position in the natural world is an ambivalent one.

The project encompassed the placement of 11 billboards across the UK in the following locations: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Pitcaple and the rural Cabrach where a windfarm was planned.

The project was complemented by a conference on Energy, Landscape, Wilderness and Growth, which took place on 22 May 2005 at the Ex-Servicemen's Club, Huntly. Guest speakers: Mel Gooding, writer, curator and lecturer on art, nature and architecture; Dr David Miller, Landscape Modeller from the Macaulay Institute for Land use; Ruaridh Nicoll, novelist and columnist for The Observer; Paul Shepheard, writer, architect and author of The Cultivated Wilderness.

     

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