Cell towers are inescapable - and after this, you'll see them everywhere

Cell towers are inescapable - and after this, you'll see them everywhere

Tony Nyberg.  Matamata , February, 2015.

Tony Nyberg. Matamata, February, 2015.

essay by India Hendrikse

Photographs by Tony Nyberg

published in Paperboy, 05 October, 2017

Like steeples reaching for the heavens, cell towers are constant reminders that even when we think we’re escaping, we very rarely are.

Cell towers are ubiquitous, but we mostly ignore their presence. They’re amalgamated with the anatomy of the land, but Auckland photographer Tony Nyberg can’t help noticing them wherever he goes. “Once you start seeing them, you see them everywhere,” he says. “It doesn’t really matter where you are – the towers are among us. When you leave the city, they become more apparent. Their modernity… that contrast.”

Once you start looking, it’s easy to see how Nyberg became fascinated with the towers: They’re like omnipresent miniature versions of the alien interlopers that ravaged landscapes in the War of the Worlds. Nyberg’s images of them became a larger project, pictured across these pages. Their straightforward style was partly inspired by photographer William Jenkins’ New Topographics movement, which came out of 1970s America and was notable for its documentation of everyday, mundane landscapes. “I have always been interested in documenting what some may see as boring landscapes – common views which are a large part of road trips,” says Nyberg. This series of photographs was taken across five years, captured spontaneously as Nyberg drove about Auckland or left the city for holidays with his wife. The presence of the cell towers makes it clear that we’re entangled in modernity – and that our getaways may not really be getaways at all.

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