If people want to build big horses in Kent towns or vast pylons in city squares, all in the name of art, then good luck to them, says Alex Smith. Of course, it helps that these schemes look good on the web too …

2008 has become the year of the monumental sculpture. So far this year on Building.co.uk we’ve had 50m-high white horses, exploding buildings on the Southbank, and now, thanks to Cabe, electricity pylons in city squares.

Every organisation in the land seems to be at it. And, of course, the web media can’t get enough of them. Why bother to spend time grappling with a complicated news story when pictures can be quickly uploaded to give readers an instant fix?

The sad thing is, once I’ve seen an arresting image on the web, my desire to actually see the object for real quickly wanes. It’s partly the curse of CAD – the visualisation looks so perfect it can’t possibly be replicated in real life, so why bother disappointing yourself?

I’m inclined to argue that the page views on Building.co.uk seem to bear out the notion that our interest in these ideas is fleeting. Upload an arresting image of a big ‘orse or a gigantic shiny slide by Zaha Hadid and page impressions rocket as the wow factor takes hold, but very quickly interest falls away.

But, having said that, life would be a lot less stimulating without public art. It gets people talking about their environment and helps put forgotten towns back on the map. And nobody tires of the truly great. The sight of the Angel of the North on the A1 revives even the most jaded long-distance trucker.

So what better way for Cabe to raise the profile of energy use by sticking a ruddy great pylon in the middle of a Birmingham shopping district. If that’s what it takes to get people to turn off their lights then all power to the artists.

Visual treats on Building.co.uk include:

The Psycho Buildings exhibition at the Hayward Gallery on Londons Southbank

St Pauls cathedral expanded to 50 storeys high

The Birmingham pylon

The Ebbsfleet White Horse