Ferguson, Nick (2015) Speedscaping. In: Mackay, Robin, (ed.) When site lost the plot. London, U.K. : Urbanomic. pp. 41-59. (Redactions) ISBN 9780957529564


The advertising hoardings which are mounted on obsolete lorry trailers parked on agricultural land constitute a new kind of ruin and a new kind of site specificity. As ruins they add a temporal dimension to their sites, whereby they mark both the passing of the ‘rural modern’ and the arrival of a contemporary conceptualisation of space. Their site specificity is distinct because their relationship to the land is at once trivial (they could be anywhere) and belongs to specific political and economic conditions. Thus far they also radically modify the concept of the picturesque, whereby economics, politics and aesthetics are conceived as a productive and inseparable ‘whole’. How should the public respond to the presence of these trailers: are they rightly regarded as contemporary examples of a longstanding tendency of the land owner to exploit their territory for monetary gain at the expense of a wider public? Or should we see them as an attempt on the part of marginalized people whose land has been rendered unusable, to make the best of it? And what would happen if they were used for the purposes of public art? More specifically, how might their appropriation as art modify any interpretation that had been made? What happens if an artist thought, well, it’s not all right for advertising, but it is all right for public art? The chapter uses the trailers as a way of opening up critical discussion of the legal and social structures that have shaped the countryside, as well as of way that land is apportioned, used and interpreted. Further to this it advocates a re-appraisal about what constitutes a shared landscape, and a recognition of how this is arrived at. It also calls for a reappraisal of these architectural forms, so that they might be recognised as a form of public sphere and architectural heritage.

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