Saturday, 15 July 2006

Soil and Art - the Aesthetic of Dirt.

Gerd Wessolek, Technical University Berlin, Salzufer 12, Berlin, D-10587, Germany

Since industrialization and urbanization set in man has increasingly used nature and thus also soil in a way not intended. Since that time landscape has been noticed aesthetically, yet scarcely in its elementary function for man. With the development of landscape painting this development may be reconstructed in art; until modern age soil itself has not been an independent subject but has been perhaps a part of the LandArt movement.

What makes soil interesting today – also for art – and which role plays the aesthetics of soil in this connection? Soil is, first of all, the basis of our existence. It is the ground where we stand, live and are active. Today we know that soil fulfils manifold ecological functions and not to forget: soil lives and gives evidence for our civilization, our cultural heritage and our religions (Bachmann, 2001; Wessolek, 2002). This only intimated immense importance is confronted with a very poor sense of protection and apart from that - looked at from the point of view of society as a whole - in the last few years rather a reduction of the ecological consciousness and interest is to be registered.

It seems to me important to give soil a new, more up-to-date image apart from its undisputed “ecological importance” and a suitable way to it could be the symbiosis of soil, aesthetics and art. As many aesthetic qualities of soil are or “lie dormant” below the soil surface and are, in addition, “hidden” by vegetation or built-up areas we have to use new aids to make them vividly aware.

The interest to find a different access to the basis of our livelihood through aesthetics and art (as a vehicle) is growing, according to our experience. In this contribuations examples are shown how soil, art and aesthetics may be combined with each other.

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