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, economic, and aesthetic exploitation, reification, and interaction. The scope of the s tudy 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 a n aesthetic object and as a vehicle for aesthetic practices.
The project identifies three points of departure: 1)The pictorialization of the natural landscape as it came into being in 18th century topographical literature and prospects, looking both at th e royal voyages of the 18th century and the pictorialized landscapes of 19th century national romanticism. 2)The aestheticization of infrastructure and landscape alike as it came to expression in proto-modernist and modernist architectural discourse and p ractice, ranging from the 1850 railway developments to the motorway aesthetics of the 1950's and -60's. 3)The road and the landscape as aesthetic practices, studied most notably in the context of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration's on-going Nation al Tourist Route Project (1995-2015).
Applying perspectives from aesthetic theory, landscape studies, architectural history and cultural studies, the project aims to shed new light on the landscape and the road as culturally constructed phenomena and to e xplore their aesthetic significance. The study involves a wide international network of experts and will result in a series of internationally published monographs and articles as well as two PhD dissertations.