The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 4 (1926) > Issues > Issue 12 > The Structural Engineer as Artist Chapter XII - The Aesthetic Standard
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The Structural Engineer as Artist Chapter XII - The Aesthetic Standard

WHEN we speak of the industrial age we generally refer to a period which began about 75 years ago when scientific invention suddenly made great strides and through its agency there was effected that enormous change in our physical environment and economic circumstances which is described as β€œthe industrial revolution.” We now know that the industrial age was not the unqualified success which at one period it proclaimed itself to be. Industrialism has been found to possess blemishes, and the age in which it firm made its appearance now seems to us to be a one-sided age. Certain aspects of man’s nature and certain activities of which he is capable were then given too large a place, with the result that various other elements of human nature were denied their proper scope. Yet, if one were to take one’s opinions from numerous scientific and quasi-scientific writers of the present day one would conclude that the industrial age is going on and on and that we are destined to become still more industrialised, still more completely under the dominion of the machine and of the intellectual standards which the machine-maker is supposed to uphold. There is, however, considerable evidence of the reverse tendency and it may be contended with some show of reason that β€œ the industrial age ” is passing away. What kind of age then are we approaching? I may perhaps be asked. To which I reply that we are now on the threshold of a period in which the aesthetic side of man’s nature wil1 once more reassert itself to such an extent that we shall witness another of the great formative periods of artistic development which history shows at certain rare intervals-Fifty years ago the results of scientific invention were still so novel that there was an excuse for men to be overborne by the spectacle of such new-found mastery over the mechanical forces of nature, but to-day we have to a certain extent become sated with these inventions, and while we respect inventors we no longer regard them as heaven-sent leaders possessed of the power to direct the course of our civilisation. Moreover, we recognise through bitter experience that while in their use and adaptation these inventions have added to our lives certain comforts and conveniences which we would not willingly forego, they have also brought into the world a great deal of ugliness. A. Trystan Edwards

Author(s): Edwards, A Trystan