Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Devil's invention

click photo to enlarge
"Barbed wire is the Devil's own invention!" My late uncle's comment on this ubiquitous strand of misery has often come to mind, usually when I've snagged my jacket, scored my boot, or cut my leg negotiating it. I suppose that, being a veteran of the second world war, and having spent most of his life as a gamekeeper, he had a close-up working relationship with the material. What he would have thought of barbed wire's modern offspring - razor wire - a development designed to be deployed solely against people, I can only imagine.

The photograph above was taken from a footpath bordering a large commercial premises. Not content with a closely spaced galvanised fence with tops shaped and cut to deter or lacerate intruders, the owners have garlanded it with razor wire. And they've further supplemented their security with 24-hour daytime in the form of column-mounted floodlights. Perhaps the problem of intruders is such that all this has been found necessary. But, it's hard to imagine that's so, particularly since other parts of the perimeter are much less well defended. Isn't it a truism that a fence is only as strong as its weakest spot?

I took this photograph to represent one view of where we are in twenty first century Britain: a point in time where, apparently, property is king, and any means are permissible in its defence. What comes next after razor wire? Armed guards? Exploding booby traps? There will be those who see all this as a necessary response to crime. But even they must acknowledge that we've come to a pitiful state when razor wire is a common feature of our surroundings.

I took a few shots of the fencing, but settled on this one with the off-centre, out of focus lights. The highlight of orange/yellow is an essential focal point of the composition. It is a good contrast with the blue/silver of the rest of the picture, and gains strength by being a complementary colour to the blue. The fact that the rolls of wire form a string of hearts adds a poignant note to the picture.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen