Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scott Cochran reviews David Maisel

     David Maisel specializes in aerial photography. Maisel focuses on the environmental impact that humans have on nature through mines, chemical plants, power plants, and cities. Maisel states,"with the mining sites, I found a subject matter that carried forth my fascination with the undoing of the landscape, in terms of both its formal beauty and its environmental politics. The active and abandoned tailings ponds I have photographed, for example, are strangely beautiful~ yet they are also chock full of cyanide, which is used in the recovery of microscopic particles of gold from the waste tailings of copper mines." 
In his project Terminal Mirage, Maisel intentionally obscures the function, location, scale, and condition of his subject. No title names the Great Salt Lake or its environs as his subject. His images all share exquisite abstract colorations and design. A few pictures are obviously landscapes. Others are so lacking in items that identify scale they might be images of deteriorating walls or macro photographs of laboratory dishes. As he intends, we are first engaged by the beauty that dances across these large scale prints. Then myriad questions arise: Who or what created what we see in these views? The answers are neither easily explained nor universally confirmed, and the answers are less interesting to Maisel than the questions and discussions the pictures might evoke.

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