No One Sees The Barn

Signs disturb the view - a true Don DeLillo moment

„No one sees the barn,“ he said finally. A long silence followed. „Once you have seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn. […] We are not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. […] Being here is kind of a spiritual surrender.“ – That’s a passage from Don DeLillo’s book „White Noise“. Where I live, this part of his fiction has come true.

Signs disturb the view - a true Don DeLillo moment

The photo above is from near my hometown Husum, Germany between the villages Schobüll and Hattstedt. It was taken at a former scenic viewpoint, where signs have been put in the line of sight explaining to you what you see.

There is no room for free observation anymore. Instead, some decision makers force you into their views of what is supposedly important there to see. Your eyes can’t escape their images and their texts.

Once it was highly appreciated to walk and sit around undisturbed and develop own thoughts about things you saw for yourself. That should still be appreciated, especially in our times of information overflow, but due to our smartphone culture and a decrease of attention span, people can’t be alone with themselves anymore.

People forget that a visually undisturbed landscape is the biggest luxury there is. Instead of just walking and letting thoughts fly, people are conditioned to accept an imitation of Wikipedia and Google Maps in real life with pop-ups of pictures and texts they can’t avoid.

Bad Taste

Here are more signs from that area. Among other information, the signs explain a non existing apple and contain even a willingly wrong description of a German Nazi building (click the photos to enlarge):

The sign tells us about an apple that doesn’t exist anymore and that nobody remembers, then advertises for a local farmer. (Photo taken in 2020)

A bunch of signs created by younger high school students (with good intentions, though). There are dozens of those signs unavoidable. On some paths you see them all the time. (Photo taken in 2024)

In some places, the woods have more signs than a busy crossroad. It’s visual garbage deadening the very basics of undisturbed perception, fatasy and thoughts. (Photo taken in 2024)

The worst of the worst is a permanent photo exhibition all over the village of Schobüll by a local showing us how beautiful the village was in the 1930s. In this photo, which still is on public display, you see a German Wehrmacht building and a military watchtower behind barb wire. He declared it a café with touristic observation tower. (Photo taken in 2024)


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