Photographer Annette LeMay Burke is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the book ‘Fauxliage: Disguised Cell Phone Towers of the American West by Annette LeMay Burke published by Daylight Books.’ To see Annette’s body of work, click on any image.
WHAT’S UP WITH THAT TREE?
by Annette LeMay Burke
I first noticed a cell tower disguised as a tree in the early 2000s. Even living in the heart of Silicon Valley and surrounded by technology and its infrastructure, this tree felt out of place. For me, the fake foliage of trees such as these drew more attention to itself than it provided camouflage. While I was initially drawn to the towers’ whimsical appearances, the more I photographed them, the more disconcerted I felt that technology was clandestinely modifying our environment. Would our children soon accept these towers as normal? I began to explore how this manufactured nature had imposed a contrived aesthetic in our neighborhoods. My photographs expose the towers’ idiosyncratic disguises, highlight the variety of forms, and show how ubiquitous they are in our daily lives. Since the towers were mostly fake trees, I dubbed the series Fauxliage. Cell phone towers are now entrenched as part of our built world. I began investigating why they are treated differently than other utility structures. Unlike power and landline phone companies, cellular service providers do not have eminent domain for their tower placement. They have to pay property owners to erect towers on their land. In an attempt to dampen the visual pollution and appease the neighbors, many early towers were disguised as trees. Today, as our insatiable demand for cellular service is ever increasing, the peculiar disguises have continued to proliferate as well. Primitive evergreens and palms have evolved into more sophisticated flagpoles, crosses, water towers, and cacti.
Photography © Annette LeMay Burke
By Annette LeMay Burke
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