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Terrifying prospects and resources of hope: Minescapes, timescapes and the aesthetics of the future

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I begin in hope, and end in hope. In the middle I consider the way we look at the future as a timescape that stretches before us, at how we regard the future in some ways like a landscape with various aesthetic possibilities as either, to cut a long story short and simplifying to the extreme, a pleasing prospect (with the double spatial and temporal meaning of 'prospect') or a terrifying prospect with also the same double meaning. Along the way, I draw on the past work of Walter Benjamin and Raymond Williams who both provide some resources for a journey of hope through the landscape of the future. The photographic minescapes of Edward Burtynsky, including his aerial photograph of 'the Super Pit', are terrifying prospects as they do not provide much by way of resources of hope as they aestheticize mining and its impacts on and in the earth, though they do demonstrate the monumental threat that the depths of mining pose to human habitation of the earth, not least in and for Kalgoorlie. Despite the doom and gloom of these minescapes, however, hope lives on - the note I end on.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10304310902985287

Affiliations: School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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