When I tell people that my exhibition will be entirely photos of power poles I get a strange reaction. I understand this reaction, because after all power poles are something that photographers usually frame out, they are everywhere, somethingthat we usually ignore, and they are ugly… right??
During the 1930’s there were poets who were using pylons as symbols of the Industrial Revolution, they became known as the pylon poets. There was a lot of discussion about the changes that were taking place and whether it was good or bad. I was very moved by a quote from Raymond Williams (31/08/1921 – 26/01/1988), a Welsh academic, novelist and critic, who was proud of his intellectual and working class perspective. He wrote;
“But there was one gift that was overriding, one gift which at any price we would take, the gift of power that is everything to men who have worked with their hands.”
(Source: Williams, Raymond (l989a) Resources of Hope: Culture, Democracy, Socialism, London:
Verso, p. 10)
The ‘power’ that is brought to us by poles and lines has shaped the world as we know it. The lines bring power of electrical energy but they also give ‘power to the people’. In the Industrial Revolution power meant that everyday people had more time, freedom and opportunities, and today it is still enabling changes in power balances as we are all more empowered through the internet and modern technology.
I feel like I could write a thesis on power poles, their role in our lives and what they can represent, but here’s a mind map instead!