Adam Goodheart mulls over the place of the wind turbine in the American landscape:
Just a century ago, however, windmills by the hundreds of thousands dotted many of the same landscapes where their present-day descendants now loom. Nearly every farmyard had its own spindly device atop a steel tower, pumping water and powering lamps. Those windmills, in their time, stood for the settlers’ proud dominion over nature, for their self-sufficiency and for the Yankee ingenuity that produced something from nothing, literally from thin air. Dozens of manufacturers competed for customers, hawking machines whose brand names formed a kind of American poetry: Buckeye, Climax, Daisy, Dandy, OK, Tip Top, Whizz.
… I wonder whether the turbines of our own century may come to stand for newer forms of self-sufficiency, less individual than national. Rising from the land in shapes as gracile as Brancusi sculptures, they seem to inhabit a middle ground between technology and nature — perfect emblems, perhaps, of a conflicted culture that cherishes its iPhones and organic gardens in equal measure. Maybe, too, they will still stand for the old American dream of snatching something from thin air: a future without sacrifice, and liberty as boundless as the sky.
Goodheart’s piece is accompanied by a few photographs from Mitch Epstein’s forthcoming American Power, which “examines how energy is produced and used in the American landscape.”