Local Richmond artist Ed Trask has painted these now-iconic landscapes of color between power lines, clouds and landscape. To me, this image of electric power also represents immaterial power as it extends itself across our lives and into the horizon. Where power disappears is where we have to start looking harder to find its source.
I think of power as a place because power is constructed, maintained and destroyed. Since I’m a spatial thinker, I also appreciate concepts such as “locating” power, “mapping” power, and “power structures.” We are all maintaining this place whether we are aware of it or not. At it’s smallest scale, power me pushing you. At it’s largest scale, power is the trends of the world moving in sequence keeping some in privileged places and keeping others out. My influences, of course, include Foucault, as well as studies of the American South, American and international cities, and current events.
Power is constructed and planned and at the same time it’s elusive and hidden.
“Savage Faces, Human Places” was a project I worked on related to power. I was mostly interested in how people access power in order to shape perceptions of themselves and others. Each photo below links to a corresponding post. Sometimes we assert power over others in order to create exclusive Hallowed Halls of significance and meaning. In some ways, the very essence of a hallowed hall makes it exclusive, otherwise it would be difficult to maintain its significance. But not every hallowed hall is formed directly opposed to what is outside, what is seen as foreign and inferior. Those that are allow people on the inside to feel that they belong and have significance, but this kind of identity is fragile and must be protected and maintained.
Here are some other posts I’ve written on issues related to power:
- “Biopower, repentance and traffic court“
- “Singing from Whiteness“
- “Race in Tyler: A Pie Graph of Color“
- “A Position of Power“
- “MADD Highways“
- Thoughts on Richard Sennett’s “Flesh and Stone”
“‘Discipline may be identified neither with an institution nor with an apparatus; it is a type of power, a modality for its exercise, comprising a whole set of instruments, techniques, procedures, levels of application, targets; it is a ‘physics’ or an ‘anatomy’ of power, a technology. And it may be taken over either by ‘specialized’ institutions (the penitentiaries …), or by institutions that use it as an essential instrument for a particular end …” (Foucault, Discipline and Punish, p. 215).
“Power is always present in all human situations, because power is nothing more than the ability, capacity and willingness of a person, a group of people or an institution (whether it is a church or a nation) to act” (Robert Linthicum, Transforming Power, p. 12).