There is something inquisitively and unexpectedly fulfilling about Alastair Philip Wiper’s pictures of factories, research centers, and industrial facilities.
These are places that, by definition, prioritize work over form. However, their colors, textures, symmetrical patterns, and converging lines uncover an astonishing – if altogether accidental – beauty.
For as long as eight years, the British picture taker has navigated the world capturing everything from air streams and echoless chambers to machines that test shoes, press vinyl records, and polish glasses frames. He has visited factories producing razor blades, loudspeakers, sex dolls, and sausages, among much else.
The subsequent book, “Unintended Beauty,” unites just about 100 of the pictures, revealing the basic aesthetic appeal hidden in apparent complexity. Be that as it may, Wiper trusts his watchers look further.
“The satisfying thing, for me, is that the pictures show something genuinely interesting, or something that people don’t get to see every day but has a meaningful effect on the world we live in,” he said in a phone interview from his home in Copenhagen.
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“You have this first layer of graphical symmetry and the visual aesthetic part of it. But then there’s another layer of ‘what’s happening here?’ You start to think about how it affects your life. I’d like people to think that deeply about it.”
To this end, the book includes a foreword by Marcelo Gleiser, a physicist specializing in cosmology and high-energy physics, complexity theory and astrobiology. In it, he thinks about how these visually satisfying gadgets may have become.
“Straight lines, sharp edges, perfect curves, circles, cubes, spheres — these are not forms we see in nature,” Gleiser writes. “They are mathematical approximations to what we see: abstractions we have devised to organize and map the parts of the world we can sense and measure.
“We (humans) represent reality with such perfect and proportionate shapes and forms because they are easier to manipulate and use for counting and measuring.”