Axel Braun - work and projects

Die Technik muss grausam sein, wenn sie sich durchsetzen will./
Technology must be cruel in order to assert itself.

Large scale technologies, like reservoirs and hydro power plants, are perfect examples how humans alter landscapes to satisfy their growing needs. This artistic research project aims to investigate the relation of power and responsibility in the context of recent discussions of energy supply.

The title of this research project on man-altered landscapes is a quotation that I found in a newspaper article from 1928. The author commented on a planned reservoir and hydro power plant in the Black Forest in the south of Germany. After discussing several points for and against the building of this infrastructure he got to this drastic statement. By the use of a personification for technology he increased the controversial and provocative character that this sentence has nowadays.

As this project was funded by the cultural foundation of a big German power company I started my investigation in the company’s historic archives. Later on I used the same archive folders that were used there to gather and contextualise my own images with found footage from the archive but also from environmentalists, scientific publications, philosophical essays, literature and landscape painting.

My investigation concentrated on the understanding of technology and nature and the way the connected discourses changed throughout the last century. From the late nineteenth century to the 1960ies a strong enthusiasm for technological progress dominated the field. After numerous catastrophes had destabilised this anthropocentric view on the world, ecological tendencies became more and more powerful. On the one hand I wanted to analyse the communication strategies employed by big companies to maintain their power in society. On the other hand I tried to figure out how much the romantic idea of nature still influences our perception of landscape.

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