July 2010

A New Leaf

Photographer EMILY SHUR captures the curious arboreal legerdemain of disguised cell-phone towers

Everyone wants flawless cell service, but in the great NIMBY tradition, no one wants the damn towers within eyeshot. There are roughly 250,000 cell-phone towers in the U.S. today, and as our insatiable appetite for more and faster data transmission grows, that number is sure to multiply—along with the assault on both the landscape and our fragile aesthetic sensibilities.

But for photographer Emily Shur, beauty can be found in the oddest of places. In her photo series Nature Calls, she documents the eerie assimilation of technology in nature. You’ve no doubt seen them dotting the byways—trees that are a bit askew from their companions, slightly greener, a little less organic...just a tad too, well, perfect.

Look closely, though, and you’ll see the telltale mechanical bits—antennae, junction boxes, wires—peeking through the artificial foliage. Shur chose to approach her subject through the lens of classic landscape photography, because to her, it’s now life as we know it. “These cell phone towers,” she says, “have become the new classic landscape.”