Donovan Wylie: Invisible Architectures of War
by Eugénie Shinkle
In the article “Donovan Wylie: Invisible Architectures of War,” author Eugénie Shinkle discusses Donovan Wylie’s photographic series and book titled The Tower Series. Through Wylie’s photographic works, Shinkle examines the idea of invisible architectures of war, in this case, watchtowers for surveillance, and how they are symbols of power, comfort and dread. Additionally, the author considers the watchtower as an anticipatory instrument against the threat of future conflicts. Shinkle begins by discussing invisible architectures in Wylie’s The Tower Series and connects the three specific landscapes of Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, and the Canadian Arctic to the three idioms of the pastoral, the sublime and the romantic.
Although the specific landscapes Wylie photographs play a role in his documentation, the author states that the landscape is the least of Wylie’s concerns. Instead, she associates the Tower Series with what cannot be seen, paranoia, loneliness, and isolation. Lastly, Shinkle discusses Wylie’s third book in his The Tower Series trilogy, titled North Warning System, which consists of 17 aerial photographs of a single radar station in Northern Labrador, Canada. Again, the author notes the haunting qualities of the barely visible radar station and reveals the landscape as a romantic idiom. Although stoic, and functionally built in nature, Shinkle reveals the watchtowers in Wylie’s photographs as fragile, small-scaled, and symbols of immanent conflict.
Eugénie Shinkle is a photographer and senior lecturer in the Department of Photography and Film at the University of Westminster in London. She has been the editor of Fashion as Photograph since 2008, and the co-editor of Emerging Landscapes: Between Production and Representation since 2014.
Review by Hanna Hendrickson-Rebizant