Voices Loom

[Image: A telephone tower in Stockholm, Sweden, courtesy of the Tekniska Museet].

Trying to catch up on the huge variety of things saved over the summer while out on our most recent jaunt for Venue, I've got an awful lot of quick links, now less-than-current news items, and a few longer reads that you've no doubt seen elsewhere at this point, but I thought I'd go through and choose a few for posting.

[Image: A telephone tower in Stockholm, Sweden, courtesy of the Tekniska Museet].

In this case, we're looking at a telephone tower in downtown Stockholm, one that stood from roughly 1887-1913, and that served at least 5,000 local phones lines—lines that take on the literal feel of a sketch or drawing as they stretch over the streets like some urban-scale loom enthroned over the city, weaving conversations together from every district. It's a cast-iron stupa through which all voices must pass.

[Image: A telephone tower in Stockholm, Sweden, courtesy of the Tekniska Museet].

There are a few more photos available at the Tekniska Museet's Flickr set, but here is a selection of some of the most interesting—

[Images: A telephone tower in Stockholm, Sweden, courtesy of the Tekniska Museet].

—including a street scene of people walking to or from home with this strange skeletal structure seemingly waiting for them at the end of the lane, listening and dystopian—

[Image: A telephone tower in Stockholm, Sweden, courtesy of the Tekniska Museet].

—or this view of it blending into its urban context. It could almost pass as a cathedral or as the intimidating battlements of an unfinished electromagnetic fortress in the middle of the downtown core.

[Image: A telephone tower in Stockholm, Sweden, courtesy of the Tekniska Museet].

The weird and invisible mysticism of the phone system is laid bare, its nervous system exposed above the roofs of Stockholm and strung up on a tower like the pelt of some rare and conquered animal, forced to host even our most inconsequential conversations.

[Image: A telephone tower in Stockholm, Sweden, courtesy of the Tekniska Museet].

(Spotted via Gizmodo).

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typo: Tesniska Museet should be "Tekniska Museet" (i.e. Museum of Technology -- the full official English name is "Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology").

August 12, 2013 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

Hmm. It seems that if this is all pictures of the same tower, then the second to last photo shows post-war cars and a rather modern building on the left. So...had to be late than 1913.

ed

August 12, 2013 1:14 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Anon, thanks for catching the typo - the name of the museum was correct in the body of the text, but I copy-pasted the typo'd version into all of the captions. Fixed it now, though - thanks again.

Ed, the tower stood till the 1950s, although it was decommissioned in 1913, thus the cars and such.

August 12, 2013 1:29 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

The second to last picture shows the logo of Nordiska Kompaniet, a Swedish department store. It's wikipedia page says that they placed this sign on the tower in 1939, and it remained there until 1952 when the building under the tower was damaged by fire.

Wikipedia implies that the telephone lines hung from the tower were removed about 1913 in favor of underground lines.

Interesting find. I wonder how they went about installing and maintaining the lines to keep tangles out?

August 12, 2013 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How it must have sung in a high wind!

August 13, 2013 2:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently, the first version was just a rectangular box, like a short and really ugly Eiffel tower, but after complaints they hired an architect to add some decorative elements.

And yeah, the revolving NK neon sign (a green logo on one side, a red clock on the other) was moved to a custom-built tower on the nearby department store in 1954. It's still around, but the over 90 metres of neon tubing have been replaced with modern LED tubes. Which looks exactly the same but is less cool...

August 15, 2013 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Juuso Koponen said...

The second to last photo is probably from 1951. Looking on the oriignal size photo on Flickr you can make out the advertising text of the cinema on the left. They are showing ”Den beslöjade Maja”, i.e. West German film ”Die verschleierte Maja” which premiered in 1951.

Thanks for sharing these amazing photos!

August 20, 2013 7:01 AM  

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