“The Power in the Land” project began from the ethnographic observation that photographers very often go to a great deal of trouble to erase signs of present reality in their images in order to fit those images into the genre of landscape photography. Users of Photoshop are plentifully provided with tools to do so. The consequence is that photos of the land are frequently slightly falsified views of what objects actually lay in the scenes when the image was recorded. The landscape thus slightly misreported is almost always a view of what the photographer imagines the scene to have offered in a supposed past. That ideal past is frequently one with no power lines, no wind turbines, and no power stations.
This idealised landscape also gives rise to a continuing tide of objections to those creations of the electrical age. I am much amused by the thought of someone hammering angrily at their laptop to complain in public about some such visual outrage while using the very electricity the outrage supplies. But amusement aside, I wanted to experiment in this project with the possibility of using some of the features of the landscape genre to find beauty in an electrified countryside, in this case, the countryside of Northeast England.
This exercise might lead to interesting ethnographic questions about the everyday aesthetics of design which create whatever beauty such scenes might evoke.
Photographs by Michael Carrithers.