Traces of Transmission

I was in western Wisconsin over the weekend, in a rural area, and was struck by the grandeur of the the power transmission lines. Something about the emptiness of the countryside makes the infrastructure seem larger–against naturalistic settings more obviously unnatural. In this part of the country, there are no mountains. No other object is this tall, this long (you can’t follow its beginning or end), this exact in its proportions. And it can’t blend in with other traces of civilization. Here, there is nowhere for these lines to go but against the trees and the sky.

Western Wisconsin has an embattled recent history with electricity generation and transmission; the objections are, at least in part, aesthetic. I can sympathize: I don’t know how I would feel if I had to look at this feature everday. But for me this object fell closer to the sublime, as if these devices were some sort of unintentional monument whose true purpose was still waiting to be discovered.

Tags electricity infrastructure