Unintended Beauty

The human mind is capable of extraordinary things. We create systems, structures and machines that allow us to provide for our lives and answer our questions about the universe. Machines tell the story of our needs and desires, our hopes and follies, our visions for the future.

—Alastair Philip Wiper

British photographer Alastair Philip Wiper’s new book, Unintended Beauty, observes places of work, knowledge, and power that are normally hidden. Wiper’s photographic exploration of industrial iconography and scientific symbolism found in technical facilities around the world reveals the accidental aesthetics, sublime complexities, and rich details of machines—machines that smash atoms together, build airplanes, produce medicine, make shoes, stuff sausages, and more.

Wiper challenges common perceptions of beauty by highlighting the unintended aesthetics of industry, science, and infrastructure. Visually, his photographs are defined by a command of lines and symmetry, color, and contrast that draws the viewer’s attention to both the aesthetic and function of his subjects.

Unintended Beauty, released in February 2020 by publisher Hatje Cantz, is accompanied by a touring exhibition. Wiper is based in Copenhagen.

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Cite this Article

Wiper, Alastair Philip. “Unintended Beauty.” Issues in Science and Technology 36, no. 3 (Spring 2020): 54–63.

Vol. XXXVI, No. 3, Spring 2020