Terminal Mirage # 236-6 Terminal Mirage #261-12
Terminal Mirage # 253-4.
Terminal Mirage # 251-4.
Robert Smithson created the Spiral Jetty sculpture in the Great Salt Lake in 1970. The coil of the Spiral Jetty stretches 1500 feet into the blood red waters of the lake. Natural fluctuations in the lake's levels cause the Jetty to frequently be submerged. Near-drought conditions have brought the Spiral Jetty above the surface of the water for the first time in years. Smithson has been a vital influence on my work for the past twenty years. Making these images of the Spiral Jetty was, in a sense, the completion of a pilgrimage for me.
Terminal Mirage #243-8.
A murky pool located at the site of MagCorp, on the western edge of the Great Salt Lake. MagCorp has released close to a hundred tons of chlorine per day from its stacks, in a cloud that can be seen from as far away as Nevada.
The Lake Project #9823-4.
The Lake Project comprises images from Owens Lake, the site of a formerly 200-square-mile lake in California on the eastern side of the Sierra Mountains. Beginning in 1913, the Owens River was diverted into the Owens Valley Aqueduct to bring water to Los Angeles. By 1926, the lake had been depleted, exposing vast mineral flats. For decades, fierce winds have dislodged microscopic particles from the lakebed, creating carcinogenic dust storms. The lakebed has become the highest source of particulate matter pollution in the United States, emitting some 300,000 tons annually of cadmium, chromium, arsenic, and other materials. The concentration of minerals in the remaining water of Owens Lake is so artificially high that blooms of microscopic bacterial organisms result, turning the liquid a deep, bloody red. Viewedfrom the air, vestiges of the lake appear as a river of blood, a microchip, a bisected vein, or a galaxy’s map. It is this contemporary version of the sublime that I find compelling.
The Lake Project #9283-3.
In The Lake Project, the lake has become the locus of water’s absence. The lake is a negation of itself, a void. To grow the city of Los Angeles is to deplete, starve, or implode the body of water that once comprised Owens Lake, so The Lake Project images serve, in a sense, as the lake’s autopsy.
The Lake Project #9273-8.
:Globe, Arizona, Pond #14.
Robert Sbieszek, curator of photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has written about this work that "fundamentally, (Maisel's) landscapes are about the land, but they are also as much about coded geometries and encrypted color schemes – ambiguous new geographies of the psyche, primordial backdrops to violence and desolation."
David Maisel is engaged in an ongoing project that uses aerial photography to make surreal, otherworldly images of environmentally impacted landscapes. This series, titled Black Maps, shows the undoing of the natural world by wide-scaled human intervention in the landscape. The images of these damaged sites, where the natural order has been eradicated, are spectacular, sublime, and horrifying. Although Maisel's photographs evidence the devastation of these locations, they also transcribe interior, psychic landscapes that are a meditation on contemporary consciousness. As otherworldly as the images appear, they depict shattered realities of our own making. Black Maps has unfolded in chapters, focusing on such subjects as strip-mines, clear-cuts, leaching fields, tailings ponds, firestorms, and other manipulations of the natural world. His current series, Terminal Mirage, focuses on the environs of Utah's Great Salt Lake. Maisel's photographs are exhibited as large-scaled C-prints. Their scale serves to convey the sublime, seemingly limitless aspect of the sites from which they are made. The forms of environmental disquiet and degradation function on a metaphorical level, and the aerial perspective enables one to experience the landscape like a vast map of its undoing. Maisel received his B.A. from Princeton University, where he worked closely with the photographers Emmet Gowin and Edward Ranney. He also studied at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. His worked is represented in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and others. His recent monograph, The Lake Project, (Nazraeli Press, 2004), was selected as one of the Top 25 Photography Books of 2004 by the critic Vince Aletti. David Maisel, american, born 1961.