Wonder-full geomorphology: Sublime aesthetics and the place of art

Deborah P. Dixon, Harriet Hawkins, Elizabeth R. Straughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (SciVal)


Though not yet readily apparent in articles and book chapters, there is a burgeoning series of ‘in the field’ collaborations between geomorphologists and artists focused around the mutual exploration of ‘inspirational landscapes’, and the harnessing of the emotive dimensions of such body/world encounters in the production and communication of geomorphological knowledge. Seemingly at odds with the discipline’s emphasis upon the production of fieldwork data (as opposed to sensed phenomena), as well as its disavowal of the subjective, this work nevertheless resonates with a complex and fascinating aesthetic tradition within geomorphology. Here, we ‘place’ these contemporary collaborations via: reference to Humboldtian science, and the crucial link between sensibility and precision; a reading of the Kantian sublime in the work of G.K. Gilbert; a sketching out of the evisceration of both the aesthetic and art in the second half of the 20th century; and, finally, a review of the current scope of art/geomorphology collaborations, and possible futures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-247
Number of pages21
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Issue number2
Early online date16 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


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