Instead of saying good riddance to the old utility poles slated for removal along Los Angeles’ Venice Boulevard, the public installation known as “Old Growth (New/Now)” has turned the aging pieces of infrastructure into art.
Part art installation, part historical exhibition, Old Growth (New/Now) looks back to a time when electric poles were associated with cutting edge technology. The installation consists of an array of glass panels imprinted with imagery related to the area’s history, which have been mounted on actual electric poles and cross arms.
Among the images on display are historical photos from the archives of Southern California Edison and the Culver City Historical Society, including an image of the Big Creek Waterfall from 1921, a source of some of Los Angeles’ early electricity. The installation’s two 40-foot-tall poles are not connected by power lines. Instead, the solar-powered artwork glows in the dark, illuminating the night sky in a celebration of evolving technology.
As electrical poles are replaced by newer technologies, they are increasingly perceived as antiquated, but not yet quaint. Some of the artworks’ images reflect on what will be missed once the electrical poles and their associated wires are gone. There will be no more dangling shoes, and the phrase “bird on a wire” will lose its meaning. As the once-ubiquitous utility poles become relics of the past, Old Growth (New/Now) hopes to help remember it.