LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

The web's first ocean and offshore wind energy weblog. Continuously renewed, like the ocean itself.

Monday, March 14, 2005

A Reminder, that Even for Wind, Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


This op-ed piece
The Aesthetics of Wind Power
, by Lefteris Pavlides, Providence Journal (3/7/05) offers another perspective on the widely held view, expressed by Massachusetts Governor Romney last year, that "wind turbines are not pretty." Here's an excerpt of Pavlides column:

As a professor of architecture, I understand the visual logic of this phenomenon. I teach that forms made to move in wind -- such as sailboats and Porsches -- are inherently beautiful. Experts discuss the artistic qualities of aerodynamic lines and the kinetic grace of modern windmills, using such terms as proportion, contrast, rhythm and movement to express what we all experience.

From an abstract view, the graceful modern windmills are even more beautiful than their ancient counterparts. A Cape Cod sculptor recently wrote to me, "[T]he beauty of modern windmills is a joyous scene to behold. As sail boats provide visual delight while transforming air into propulsion, so will windmills that catch ambient breezes for essential power."

Non-experts in aesthetics also discuss the delight of watching windmills. An engineer with no artistic training sent me his unsolicited opinion that the Danish Horns Rev offshore wind park was "one of the most inspiring and thrilling sights seen from the Blavaand lighthouse observatory deck."

To adapt an adage, beauty is in the eye and also the mind of the beholder. Our judgment of what is beautiful is based not just on abstract qualities of form. Modern windmills, for instance, have acquired a broad range of connotations.

As we evaluate the aesthetic and visual impacts of wind, it's important to keep all of these judgments in mind.

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