Friday, November 26, 2010

The towers that connect us

Telecommunication
Palm Beach, FL
December 2008
[Click here for more sepia]

I often write about mobile devices and the wireless networks that make them come alive. So when I'm wandering the hinterlands of this crazy continent of ours, I seem to notice every last iota of technological infrastructure.

Some would call these cell towers ugly. I'm no authority on what defines beauty (except for anything that applies to my wife, of course) but I'll admit I wouldn't want one of these things in my back yard. Or my neighborhood. Or anywhere remotely near any place where I spend any appreciable amount of time.

But like most nimby-esque cell phone tower haters, I willingly consume the bandwidth they pump out. I use my BlackBerry to make work happen, to connect with my family and to keep a window open on the world around me. I realize that the magical wizardry of any technology often comes with a bit of a dark side, and the answer (i.e. towers bad, not here) is never as simple as we wish it could be.

So I like to linger a little whenever I find myself near one of these towers. They're the perfect example of built-to-a-purpose engineering. Nothing is wasted, especially the effort to make any of it look good. Aesthetics? Not so much.

But then I circle back to that whole I'm-no-authority-on-beauty thing. Who says this isn't beautiful in its own way? Who says anything - or anyone - is or is not lovely in its own way? Who elected us final arbiters, anyway?

Your turn: How do you define beauty?

15 comments:

Sarah Walton said...

Love it. Dubai is a city that (besides it's little freakout a year or two ago) is growing up around me. I am surrounded by towers, cranes, half-completed skyscrapers and other pieces of geometrical wonder. I also love the way the city has embraced the satellite dish - sometimes I pass a house with 15 on the roof.

Took this for my man-made assignment:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_rVy_JsUQDI4/TOUN0ENbQoI/AAAAAAAAKAk/AElBoqB2j0w/s1600/mvn1.jpg

I agree, power towers are stunning.

Max said...

There are areas of my state where you can see a road traveling straight to the horizon, a thin black strip bisecting a redrock plateau spotted with sagebrush. Most of the time, along one side of the road there is a row of wooden power poles, the wires they carry forming arcs that seem to reach for the road.
At times all I can think is that this human intrusion into the desert is obscene, that this is the one and only human artifact in an otherwise pristine landscape.
Other times I see a certain beauty in this straight strip of black bordered on one side by rhythmic placing of the wood poles that seem to get closer together the farther away they get.
All that waxing poetic and all I'm really saying is that depending upon my mood, one day something can be beautiful, the next day the same thing is ugly.

Max said...

I forgot to point out, though, that some things are beautiful no matter what mood I'm in.

Nancy said...

This will sound a bit cliche, but I think almost anything can project what you refer to as beauty -- (I think I hear that Ray Stevens song coming on...)although I admit I'm a bit of a sucker for natural more than manmade subjects.

If nothing else, I am often in awe, sometimes repulsed, at what man is able to construct with raw materials and a blueprint. Interesting question and photo. :)

theVibeGirl said...

If something is made for the purpose of beauty, I'll be more critical. Finding beauty in our surroundings is rewarding, but technology can be destructive as well.

Deb said...

thank you for stopping by to visit...hope you come back...I love towers and such for photos...not necessarily in my own back yard though...

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I find beauty in simplicity.. I love clean lines... Architecture is my favorite...European can be quite detailed but yet simply and clean. Likewise, quotes- which say a lot in so few words...

Serendipity said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Recently I came across something which makes you think for a while and accept the truth i.e., when you look yourself in the mirror, you're not defining who truly you're but you are defined by your eyes and your state of mind.

Karen Sather said...

Beauty to me, is completely covered over a smiling face...... ;)

Allison said...

Technology is beastly to the environment, there is no doubt about it; but there is an odd sense of beauty in the world humankind has made for itself. It is our reality, after all.

So nice of you to stop by gallimaufry. I am very interested in your blog; professionally, I work alongside journalists on a daily basis and have always been rather fascinated by your profession. You craft words marvellously!

A Paperback Writer said...

I like this photo very much.

Nikki-ann said...

Beauty is in the ey of the beholder, is it not? I guess something simply look good to some people and not to others, while other things can look good from one angle/perspective but not from another.

Mary K. Mennenga said...

As for how I define beauty. It's what moves my heart and sometimes touches my soul, making me glad to be alive. There is the beauty of a moment when you feel everything within you is in perfect harmony. When you feel with eyes, your unable it move, knowing it will break the harmony, knowing you must. That how I define it anyway

bruce said...

beauty is the hardest thing to define because of the differences of opinions we all have...

for example a largemouth bass is really kinda ugly...but a large keeper is a thing of beauty.

beauty has more than an element of point of reference and perspective...

bruce
bruce johnson jadip
and
stupid stuff i see and hear

Snaggle Tooth said...

Your current header pic is beautiful!
(Sunset sky color beam with a power line on the horizon)