Routes, Roads and Landscapes. Aesthetic Practices en route, 1750 – 2015

Routes, Roads and Landscapes" er et NFR-finansiert forskningsprosjekt (1.8.2008-31.12.2011) som studerer veier og landskap i et historisk og teoretisk perspektiv.

Tverrfaglig forskningsprosjekt om infrastruktur og landskapsforståelse fra opplysningstiden fram til i dag.

The project studies the aestheticization of the modern landscape, i.e. the ways in which the landscape, from the Enlightenment until today came to be construed as an aesthetic object with particular aesthetic values. The vehicle for the investigation is infrastructure: routes, roads, and railways that made their way into the landscape, simultaneously constituting it qua landscape and making it accessible for practical and aesthetic exploitation, reification, and interaction. The scope of the study is twofold. We investigate the ways in which various kinds of routes have shaped modern conceptions of the landscape by framing it as a view, an aesthetic object, or a place for interaction, and we inquire into the role of the route itself, both as an aesthetic object and as a setting for aesthetic practices. 

Project structure
The Routes project is financed by the Norwegian Research Council’s program for Cultural Evaluation (KULVER). It is a multidisciplinary research project based at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, in collaboration with the University of Oslo, Institute of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), Norwegian Institute for Transport Economics (TØI), and the research cluster ‘Topologie der Technik’ at the Technische Universität, Darmstadt. It runs from 2008 until 2011. The Routes project encompasses three senior researchers, one post doc, two PhD candidates, as well as international guest researchers. It is part of a wide international network of researchers from fields such as science and technology studies, architectural history, cultural studies, landscape history, art history, and sociology.

Projects within the project
We have chosen three distinct historical moments as foci for the individual studies that make up the Routes project. Firstly, the pictorialization of the natural landscape will be studied as it came into being in 18th century topographical literature and prospects, looking both at the royal voyages of the late 18th century and the pictorialized landscapes of 19th century national romanticism. Secondly, we study the aestheticization of infrastructure and landscape alike as it came to expression in proto-modernist and modernist architectural discourse and practice, ranging from the 1850 railway developments to the motorway aesthetics of the 1950’s and -60’s. Thirdly we investigate the road and the landscape as aesthetic practices, most notably in the work of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration’s on-going National Tourist Route Project (1995-2015) with its aim to present and promote Norwegian natural landscapes as aesthetic experience. This threefold material, thus, reveals three levels at which the aestheticization process is at work en route: the aestheticization of the road as a work of art, the reification of the landscape as picture and practice, and the journey as an “aisthetic” interchange between material and experiential phenomena. Pursuing the threefold process of aestheticization, the project sheds light on the route and the landscape as culturally constructed and reciprocal phenomena, inexorably inscribed into multiple webs of aesthetic practices.

Publisert  2008