Angel and Bridge<br />Introduction<br />331152534925Gateshead City Council Committee for Public Art decided in 1990 to reserve a prominent site, overlooking the main road from the south into the main North East UK conurbation, for a “landmark sculpture.“ Two and a half years later, the site had been cleared and landscaped. During 1993, a short list of international artists received Gateshead’s invitations to submit proposals. In January 1994, Antony Gormley was awarded the commission. It was more than two years later that the £800,000 funding was finally secured, and after a further thirteen months, the contract for the fabrication of the Angel was signed. The completed Angel was formally unveiled in June 1998.<br />Angels<br />The performance artist, Laurie Anderson, and the film director, Wim Wenders, met for the first time in an airport. The conversation they had was somewhat asymmetrical, since she only found out who he was – a multi-award winning film director at the core of the New German Cinema in the 1970s and beyond – as they parted. Anderson came to write some of the music for Wings of Desire and then for its sequel, Faraway, So Close. In an interview, for the magazine Goldmine, Anderson said:<br />…we spent time in Berlin talking about angels and what they look like, and if they really wear black raincoats and follow you to the library…and then they just kept flapping into all the songs that I was working on. I just couldn’t keep ‘em out.<br />The song which came directly out of this is Strange Angels, which begins with a shy critique of perfection and light, and then connects to the idea of strangeness within the mundane:<br />They say that heaven is like TV A perfect little world that doesn't really need you And everything there is made of light And the days keep going by Here they come Here they come Here they come. Well it was one of those days larger than lifeWhen your friends came to dinnerAnd they stayed the nightAnd then they cleaned out the refrigerator They ate everything in sight And then they stayed up in the living room And they cried all night Strange angels - singing just for me Old stories - they're haunting me This is nothing like I thought it would be<br />Wenders in his two memorable films disrupts the traditional relation between angels and the perfect other, and brings it down to earth, trying, however, to retain the angel’s aura within a this-worldly, rather than other-worldly context. This move is one that Antony Gormley and Norman Foster share.<br />The next and final verse in Anderson’s song reveals solitude and fragility:<br />Well I was out in my four door with the top down. <br />And I looked up and there they were: Millions of tiny teardrops just sort of hanging there And I didn't know whether to laugh or cry And I said to myself: What next big sky? Strange angels - singing just for me Their spare change falls on top of me Rain falling Falling all over me All over me Strange angels - singing just for me Old Stories - they're haunting me Big changes are coming Here they come Here they come. <br />Antony Gormley found a response to the combination of wonder and apprehension evoked at the end of Anderson’s song. He secured it fast and imperturbable to the ground. Perhaps it is this groundedness, this imperturbability that has led The Angel to become a first person phenomenon, part of the collective subjectivity of the North East: its people, its organisations, its history, and its landscape.<br />Antony Gormley’s Vision<br />Gormley said<br />The angel has three functions - firstly a historic one to remind us that below this site coal miners worked in the dark for two hundred years, secondly to grasp hold of the future, expressing our transition from the industrial to the information age, and lastly to be a focus for our hopes and fears... <br />Gormley’s three functions are reducible to two: representing light in contrast to the historic darkness of the mines, and providing a focus for hopes and fears. The third function – grasping the future in expressing the shift into the information age – is an elaboration of the first two. <br />I wondered if, in retrospect, he recognised that The Angel’s prime impact upon the North East of England might very well be simply to become one of the outstanding components of the collective ‘We’ of the North East, put simply, to have become a member of the family? I wondered also what this might mean, and how its meanings might be demonstrated. As an indication that we might be looking in a significant direction, we can note the importance that collectivity has had within his Field project begun in 1991, with its multitude of miniature terracotta figures (Searle 1996; Vallely 2005; www.antonygormley.com). As Adrian Searle commented about the Hayward Gallery show in 1996:<br />The several versions of Field mark both a departure from Gormley’s habitual working practice, and a different way of looking at human presence… Clustered so close together, entirely filling the bounded space beyond the viewer – a space we cannot enter, except by sight alone – the figures which make up Field for the British Isles present a singular image of humanity.<br />1397043180As Field shows, then, joining the collectivity is not so easy. In 2002, the British Museum staged an exhibition of Antony Gormley’s drawings. In his contribution to the accompanying text, the artist listed the materials that he used: ‘"
Lamp black, bone black, casein, linseed oil, milk, semen, blood, coffee, chicory, earth, shellac ..."
Jonathan Jones, writing in the Guardian (and, like Brian Sewell, not an admirer of Gormley’s work), said this: “…now we know the worst. Antony Gormley can wank on a piece of paper and get it exhibited at the British Museum.” That was gratuitous, and recalls the time, when, eleven years ago, the (now defunct) Gateshead Post linked Angel to 1935 Nazi symbolism. <br />Although eleven years is quite a short time in the life of a public monument, much shifting of position has taken place. It helped, of course, that a Schools initiative lasting over two years engaged more than a thousand children in making models of angels of all kinds. Some of this involved taking elements of of Gormley’s body-modelling practice, and adapting it for classroom use. (White 1998: 22) This kind of work (later raised to a higher level of intensity and stamina in the case of the five year-old Sage, Gateshead) probably helped to generate the loyalty to the Angel which seems to have become widely shared, but was surely not the single process operating here. How can we understand this, and are there some provisional general principles we can advance?<br />To begin an answer, let me go back to Laurie Anderson. What has the work of a performance artist and lyricist really got to tell us about The Angel of the North? Since angels have been a cliché of popular music since the advent of church singing (Robbie Williams’ Angels is the undergraduate anthem of 1000 undergraduates at St. Cuthbert’s Society, Durham University, who are ‘loving Cuthbert’s instead’), what is so special about Laurie Anderson here? The reply, of course, is disappointing. There is nothing special about Laurie Anderson here. She is precisely dealing with cliché. The similar point was made by both Jones and Sewell, about Gormley’s Angel. The theorist of poetry and music might say that Anderson’s underlying goal would be to give renewed lyrical, musical and emotional expression to that cliché. <br />266701579245275844049530The analyst of public sculpture can score an easy point by dismissing Gormley’s work as clichéd, but a more generous critical voice might allow the virtues of giving new expression to cliché. At this point, we might say that one possible aspiration of public sculpture is to bring new life to the over-familiar. In doing that, a landmark may be created: a footnote to the broad world of culture and civilisation. What comes after that is a matter more of hope than of design: optimistic cultural policy aspiration rather than framed aesthetic intention. The ultimate wish-fulfilment now, as we can see – in two current examples of public sculpture: Dream in St. Helens and Newton Aycliffe’s In our Image (for which Joseph Hiller - like Antony Gormley - used his own body as a <br />cast) – is that the work will go beyond the transcendence of cliché, to be taken as a place-making symbol, representative and honorary community member, deserving of loyalty, protection and vigorous defence. Thus, to give two examples, whoever might disrespect the Eiffel Tower attacks the French, while praise for Gehry’s Guggenheim enhances socio-economic confidence in Bilbao. The road to Nirvana, then, for public art and its commissioning apparatus is the development from recognition through appreciation to belonging.<br />Current Research<br />Against that background, we can pose the question of socio-economic benefit: is it worth it? The simplest answer is that rigorous measurement of the full socio-economic impact of public art is not possible. As Chris Bailey has noted, the causal links are just too complex, and the assumed causal processes are controversial. The point is also made inadvertently by the CISIR (Dobbs et al 2004; Biddle et al 2006) evaluations which are, at least as far as the Angel is concerned, rudimentary, and were extremely disappointing in what they delivered in the eyes of the director of Sage Gateshead, Antony Sargent. <br />Cultural policy advisors like Francois Matarasso or John Holden credit public art work with the capacity to enhance self-esteem, sense of belonging, pride in an area. It does make sense that such positive feelings may contribute to socially desirable outcomes and enhance social capital, but rigorously attributing outcomes to specific investments is not something that current methodology enables us to do. Both Holden and Matarasso realise this, and will argue that mechanisms which may enhance the vibrancy of a social group are good in themselves. Going beyond this in audit fashion is very hard to do. We can see this to be the case in a current project.<br />Liverpool: European Capital of Culture 2008<br />Beatriz Garcia runs the long term Capital of Culture evaluation project in Liverpool. She has been using all the available techniques, but it is still highly likely that the evaluation project umbilically linked to Liverpool European City of Culture 2008 will come to be seen as a brave gesture at the close of a failed paradigm. The Liverpool 2008 Impact Assessment model, begins with a simple continuum. At one end, we find culture as a partner source and partner object of regeneration. This is rare. At the other end, we find the occasional, non-strategic contribution to regeneration. In the middle, we have examples like Liverpool 08, or – arguably – millennial Newcastle-Gateshead. These are examples of cases where culture-led regeneration has meant re-branding, multiple investment projects, and cultural investment in, what have come to be seen as, high-profile examples of what regeneration efforts can produce<br />Key elements marking the confident aspirations of the Liverpool 08 evaluation team include the successful engagement of cultural champions; the multi-disciplinary nature of the project team; its flexible response to changing circumstances; the commitment to infrastructural credibility, and the sustained application of real principles of community ownership to planning, management and evaluation. The bravery is illustrated by the dismissive attention given to the Treasury ‘Green Book’ rules, and their requirement of evidence under the headings of additionality, displacement, substitution, and attribution: in other words, that the impacts would be measurable, would not have occurred without the public investment concerned, and were not offset by linked reductions in desirable social activities elsewhere. <br />As the Liverpool Review team point out,<br />Evidencing these forms of economic impact is difficult to establish, in part because change can take a long time. It is acknowledged that regeneration can take a time frame of 25 years, or more, to take effect across a community and place, hence the need for longitudinal assessment and research that is re-visited over time. <br />In 2008 this unquestionably socially well-meaning version of the impact landscape has the following four elements:<br />Economic impact success is measured in terms of jobs created, and investment attracted. <br />Social impact success is signalled by diversified participation. <br />Environmental impact is measured through infrastructural and public space legacies. <br />Cultural impact can be evidenced in terms of image and identity. <br />It is within the cultural area that the Liverpool team claim to be breaking new ground with their research model. Of their seven themes, four stand out:<br />Cultural Vibrancy (e.g. creativity, production, consumption) <br />Cultural participation (e.g. access, outreach, diversity) <br />Image and identity (e.g. media coverage, people’s perceptions) <br />Social capital (e.g. inclusion, well-being, quality of life) <br />The Liverpool Impacts08 data collection methodology is as follows:<br />Documentary and policy review of key strategic and promotional material <br />Media content analysis: Analysis of key themes and attitudes within national and local news and commentary<br />Visual ethnography : capturing official, unofficial and spontaneous visual representations of the city<br />Participatory cultural mapping: Inviting local communities to express their identity and sense of place<br />Unstructured interviews: capturing how the city is told by front-line service staff and volunteers<br />Perception surveys: capturing people’s evolving opinion of the city and the ECoC (European Capital Of Culture)<br />longitudinal assessment of benchmark indicators and secondary data <br />monitoring training, skills levels, income and investment in the arts and creative industries<br />monitoring impacts on Liverpool’s visitor economy<br />longitudinal local area studies in distinct city neighbourhoods<br />assessment of support, uses and changing perceptions of the city’s public realm <br />Statistical and analytic content-based feedback was regularly published on relevant websites throughout 2008. For example, in April, the researchers working for Impacts 08 reported 500% increases in positive national media coverage compared with 1996. Areas that needed attention such as tourism activity, data presentation and inter-organisational networking also featured prominently. As the year went on, the economic data was strengthening: “At the end of 2008, the Liverpool Culture Company reported that the economic benefit to the Liverpool city region of its year as European Capital of Culture was £800 million. This was based on estimates from available data on global media coverage value, visitor spend, and activity at the Echo Arena and Convention Centre directly attributable to the ECoC Programme.” Cultural impacts were harder to specify, and, even accounting for one striking figure comparing the 259 registered volunteers in 2005 with the 9894 volunteers recruited by August 2008, the reportage for impacts in the areas of identity, physical infrastructure, and sustainability are unimpressive as adverts for timely social impact effectiveness and its associated measurement technology.<br />Even allowing for the continuing dissemination and education work and for future assessments, it is hard to avoid the interim conclusion that Impacts 08 is a marketing tool rather more than a rigorous audit mechanism, and will fail (as did its predecessors) to engage adequately with the spatio-temporal complexities and overlays within the overall network of relevant causal relations. DCMS certainly recognised these problems in their 2003 Research Review. Thus, at this point, in late 2009, it seems unlikely that the Liverpool evaluation team will deliver what had seemed possible at the birth of the Department of Culture Media and Sport, as a new government department in 1997 – that is to say a robust social impact methodology for cultural investment. As if to confirm this, we can quote the relevant conclusion in full – allowing this to speak for itself – from the final report on three workshops held in 2009 ‘to explore arts engagement and the measurement of its quality and impact’ (Impacts08 2009 p.15):<br />Objective 4<br />To communicate key issues emerging from established research across academics and practitioners and influence the set up of new research and evaluation programmes to understand the impact of the European Capital of Culture post 2008 and the potential impact on audiences of hosting a Cultural Olympiad (2008-2012). <br />Workshops one and three included presentations which specifically communicated issues from current cultural research. The key relationship established between Impacts 08 and the University for the Creative Arts, along with the links forged through those attending the workshops themselves, has laid the foundation for potential future collaborations on cultural policy research and evaluation. The call for more longitudinal research (outlined in section 2.6 above) demonstrates the need for more work of this nature. <br />After the Failed Paradigm<br />There are just a few signs that a revived sensitivity to the contingencies of history and community could begin replacing the brash confidence of the 1997 cultural engineering and impact measurement framework – at least in the area of regional development. A recent positive assessment of the culture-led regeneration of Newcastle-Gateshead was produced by the Italians Sacco, Blessi, and Nuccio. Their approach was solidly built on the market-led orthodoxy of demand, space, and labour. They drew their inspiration from the economics of agglomeration, which tries to explain under what conditions independent economic enterprises come to cluster together. Drawing on Alfred Marshall’s notion of ‘industrial atmosphere’, they argued:<br /> …‘industrial atmosphere’…at first sight could be meant as…systematic informational flows…among local agents…a truly local, shared organizational culture working as the real entry barrier of the local system, allows firms to share experiences, information, forecasts about the future market dynamics, as well as extremely specific and critical bits of knowledge about productive processes and products. (Sacco et al, 2008:7)<br />The economic focus on production explains how the dynamic of industrial clustering is built on the rational calculation of comparative advantage. Proximity to a substantial channel through to buyers will count for a lot. An actual or potential set of suppliers and sub-contractors will help a great deal. The economics of agglomeration into districts and regions cannot avoid questions of transport cost and management convenience. The proximity of cognate organisations will be a factor, connecting to issues of market and research intelligence exchange and also to labour market training and development needs. In any given context there will be contra-indications, mostly connected to questions of competition and culture. I run through this context to illustrate that the impact of something like The Angel of the North or Liverpool European Capital of Culture might first be placed in its context, which is that of a macro-actor with history and a contemporary condition. <br />246253037465What the Italian work suggests is an alternative way of posing the question of social impact. In search of rigour, we turn away from the currently impossible quest for the measurement of the specific socio-economic impact of the Angel of the North on the society, economy and culture of the North East, changing the focus from the Angel to its context. The Italian economist, and one might say philosopher of the idea of districts and regions, Giacomo Becattini, had this to say about districts – and this is depicted visually in Stephen Hannock’s review-like Northern City Renaissance which contrasts with the metaphysical future orientation of the Angel – <br />the functioning of the district is such that the very market of the district is not just a mere consumer of competences, but it is an endless stirring of competences. In the second place, a very particular relationship between the external market and the hyper-fragmented process of production of the district requires, as was said, an endless reshuffling of human resources and materials. If there exists an environment where survival is tied to the ability to adapt to endlessly changing external (and consequently internal) circumstances, that certainly is the district. It is not here a question of enjoying innovation in itself, or of vainly pursuing fame; quite simply, it is a struggle for survival. If the combinatorial attitude, the symbol of which is the impannatore, does not prevail, the end of the district is certain. Hence the district ends up functioning like a machine which allows random factors to shower continuously onto solidified forms of competence. (Beccatini: 1991)<br /> <br />As the prospective investment-audit paradigm comes to a close, Beccatini’s view, coming out of a socio-historical perspective analysing how socio-economic clusters arise is one of a number of approaches which look to past performance and present needs and opportunities. Approaches of this kind will not necessarily lead to an endorsement of recent decisions made, for example, in St. Helens and Newton Aycliffe. But, all is not lost, since the perspective of Valerie Angeon and her colleagues, which we will now look at in the context of the bridge at Millau, takes a rather more action- and community-oriented approach to proximity.<br />Millau and the Economics of Proximity<br />337502582550The Viaduc de Millau, on the A75 autoroute known as La Méridienne, was the last stage in the completion of a fourth north-south motorway across France. The Roman name for Millau was Contadomagus, and it does summon up a certain magic. On the river Tarn, it has been a crossroads for traffic across the centre of France and through the Massif Central, for more than 2000 years. A notorious traffic bottleneck, it came to be a place best avoided. Unsurprisingly the Southern Aveyron was a territory in decline. . It was judged that the bridge would increase local economic and social density. But there were risks. The traffic might just go right past (cf. The Cars that Ate Paris), isolating the territory, and contributing to further rural depopulation. Overall, one key question is how to organise state investment in basic services, in order that it contributes well to regional and local development. The question, of course, has two sides. The second side concerns the way in which region and locality can make good use of those episodes of national and international infrastructural investment which come to take place in their area. <br />The planning of a bridge over the immediate Millau conurbation, which would keep the traffic at the level of les grands causses, l imestone bluffs which characterise the area, was begun in the 1990s. It took quite some time for the political and economic actors in the Southern Aveyron to work out that they needed to actively respond to this item on the national agenda. Perhaps a little too late, but nevertheless, an innovative research project, extending over 2003-2006, was funded by both the state and the prefecture of The Aveyron. Researchers, students, local actors, and national actors worked together in an action research and development project that had (it was seen in retrospect) five principles, as set down by Sylvie Lardon (2007, p.9) and Jean-François Pin to which has been added a sixth (reflecting the spirit of the whole enterprise)<br /><ul><li>Permeable frontiers across all interests
Everything would be conceived as provisional</li></ul>The aim of Lardon and her colleagues was to make explicit what was usually tacit, and also to redefine the ‘expert’ as ideas entrepreneur launching collective pre-figurative scenerarios, many of which were expected to fall by the wayside. This was seen as a new methodology for regional development – a ‘prospective and participative’ diagnostics, sometimes spoken of by Lardon as ‘territorial engineering.’ She writes:<br />Territorial engineering designs the ensemble of concepts, methods and tools which can be used by territorial actors, in order for their territorial projects to be conceptualised, realised and evaluated. This involves not just local developers, locally elected politicians, local inhabitants and activists, but also the ensemble of actors dealing with everything that is at issue in territorial development. It is the whole chain engaged in territorial redevelopment that will be redefined. (11)<br />From the outset, it should be noted that in this approach there is an implicit critique of the standard political and economic development framework of local-regional-national levels. In Lardon’s understanding it is the properties, needs and potential of the territory concerned which are prime. It is an understanding which may suggest that investment in any area, public art being far from the only example, will not do much alone unless it is thoughtfully embraced by further movement.<br />239776081915<br />The Prefect of The Aveyron, Chantal Jourdan, notes that the A75 is the region’s only autoroute, and that the bridge presents an unmissable chance for durable global marketing of the region, which will not just concern economic development and tourism, but also the relation to the environment, and right from the beginning a welcome to the work in progress. Jourdan’s predecessor, Anne-Marie Escoffier, joined her in producing the development programme for the area, to go alongside the infrastructure project. Four million euros was provided to put the socio-economic plan together. It led to twenty local projects and to the seeding of thirty more, and eventually another 36 million euros of funding, some of which runs through to 2013. <br />250634527305The first model for conceptualising the socio-economic concomitants of the projected bridge had the notion of multiple partnerships at its core, alongside the tasks of reconciling physical construction and environmental protection. Both prefects applauded the excitement and confidence that the plans had created in The Aveyron. They unequivocally confirmed that the role of the state was utterly fundamental, balancing this with recognition of genuine fears on the part of some residents: economic development could lead to local upheaval as indigenous businesses move into better facilities kilometres away. <br />With the bridge project approved, and scheduled to open in 2004, state and region sponsored planning groups drawing on local elected representatives and local professionals began to meet in 2000. Two essential principles came out of their deliberations<br /><ul><li>Account would be taken of all components and activities, including people, heritage and environment
Everything had to be understood in the context of the South Aveyron, in complementarity with the effects radiating from the autoroute</li></ul>Researching this context, on the ground, did not really begin for the team from ENGREF until late 2003. They resolved that the research project would form part of the academic programme for senior students, and it was determined that five competences should be developed through their engagement through the academic year 2003-4. Naturally, these projected competences reflected the theoretical modelling that the ENGREF initiative brought to the live context in the South Aveyron:<br /><ul><li>Assessing situations with partial information
Engaging with the diverse timeframes of phenomena and social actors
Deploying the tools of spatial representation to give form to projected scenarios in order that they might be discussed
Translating across the universes of developers and managers
Participating in local discussions to aid forward movement (19)</li></ul>Lardon is clear that the focus on governance, public politics and spatial analysis leads to an understanding of just how important is the relation between public politics and institutional apparatuses, and that means that transposing partially compatible rules and facilitating their adaptation in their new form is very important. The academic attempt to be multi-perspectival and objective can help with this; and ‘academic’ evaluation can help to validate new processes, and the associated institutional learning and reform, in most if not all contexts. (20)<br />The ENGREF researchers hypothesised that cohering regional visions can be brought into being by creating and using shared spatial protocols. Visualising new processes helps to enable their representation in the new context, opening paths for adaptation where necessary. The accent here is placed on the co-ordination of different actors, on the creation of new resources, and on the dynamics of change. The general climate to be developed is one where the region is not pre-conceived, but results from the play of multiple actors.<br />References<br />Anderson, Gail-Nina 1998 ‘Angels’, in Antony Gormley et al, Making an Angel. London: Booth-Clibborn Editions, pp.105-107.<br />Arup, Ove 1998 ‘Engineering the Angel’ in Antony Gormley et al, Making an Angel. London: Booth-Clibborn Editions, pp.40-41.<br />Asheim, B.T. 2003 ‘Industrial districts: the contributions of Marshall and Beyond’ in Clark, G.L et al, The Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography. Oxford UP, pp.413-431.<br />Becattini, G. 1991 ‘The industrial district as a creative milieu’ in G. Benko and M. Dunford (eds), Industrial change and regional development: the transformation of new industrial spaces, New York: Belhaven Press.<br />Biddle, P., Archer, A., Lowther, H. 2006 Cultural Investment and Strategy Impacts Research (CISIR) Report on Research Findings. University of Northumbria.<br />Boyne, R 1998 ‘Angels in the archive’, Cultural Values, Vol.2, No.2/3, 48-64<br />Boyne, R. 2006 ‘Methodology and ideology in cultural evaluation’ Humboldt University Working Papers in British Studies, July 2006.<br />Boyne, R. 2008 ‘Comparative Cultural Strategy and Socio-Economic Indicators’ NERIP Newsletter, May 2008.<br />Dobbs, L., Moore, C., Simpson, G. 2004 Cultural Investment and Strategy Impacts Research (CISIR) Report on Research Findings. University of Northumbria.<br />Gormley, A. 1998 ‘Of coal, and iron, and ships, and planes’ in Antony Gormley et al, Making an Angel. 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Environment and Planning D: Society and Space: Vol.25, pp.355-375.<br />Vallely, P. 2003 ‘Antony Gormley: The model sculptor - and angel of modern British art’, The Independent: 22 February.<br />Van der Graaf, P.F. 2009 Out of Place? Emotional Ties to the Neighbourhood in Urban Renewal in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Amsterdam UP.<br />White, M. 1998 ‘A Northern Tale’ in Antony Gormley et al, Making an Angel. London: Booth-Clibborn Editions, pp.21-23.<br />Wroe, N. 2005 ‘Leader of the pack’, The Guardian, 25 June.<br />Images (in order of appearance)<br />Gormley, A.(1998) Angel of the North 9908-21-8104 www.free-foto.com<br />Gormley, A. (1996) Field http://www.dailyicon.net/2008/09/page/5/<br />Plensa, Jaume (2009) Dream http://eatingdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/st-helens-dream.jpg<br />Hillier, Joseph (2009) In Our Image <br />Hannock, Stephen (2008) Northern City Renaissance (courtesy of the artist)<br />Millau Viaduct n.d. www.transport.polymtl.ca<br />Millau Viaduct n.d. www.hotel-de-la-capelle.com<br />Millau Viaduct n.d. www.commons.wikimedia.org<br />