Posts Tagged ‘Great Salt Lake’

David Maisel Oblivion 1382-52nI really don’t have the time to really get into the work of photographer David Maisel but wanted to at least pass on a few of his images as well as a link to his website.  Initially, I came across some of his black and white views of Los Angeles taken from great altitudes, transforming the landscape into an abstract form that feels darkly uneasy and machine-like, the urban sprawl constantly self-replicating.  I am drawn to aerial imagery and these pulled me in at once.

David Maisel  Terminal Mirage 22But going to his site, I was hit with a wide spectrum of images that knocked me out.  Color filled views of geometric beauty shot over the Great Salt Lake. Creepy shots of clear-cut forest zones in Maine with massive piles of logs splayed out like toothpicks.  Images that capture what he calls the apocalyptic sublime in the aftermath of Mount Saint Helens.  Images in black and white and in colors that come off as shocking of mining sites.  It was stunning work that captured the environmental impact of the continual push of humans into all spaces– beautiful and terrifying at once.

David Maisel Library of Dust 1165Even the parts of his body of work that seem to stray from his aerial assault on our perceptions were fascinating.  X-rays of antiquities.  A series called Library of Dust that shows the degradation of copper canisters containing the cremated remains of patients of an Oregon Insane Asylum who died there between the 1883 and the 1970’s, all unclaimed by family and forever resting anonymously in a decaying building.  Thousands of these sealed copper cans lining simple shelves while time works its magic.

It’s all remarkable and thought provoking work.  As I said, beautiful and terrifying.  I could see myself getting lost in any of his projects.  I encourage you to check out his site and see for yourself.

David Maisel  Terminal Mirage 19 David Maisel  Terminal Mirage 18 David Maisel  Terminal Mirage 8 David Maisel Oblivion 1381-41n David Maisel Oblivion 1380-45n David Maisel  Terminal Mirage 20 David Maisel Untitled [Library of Dust]

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Robert Smithson Spiral JettyProgress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral
with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I was looking at a book catalog yesterday, just browsing for something new and I spotted a book on the works of Robert Smithson, who is best known for his monumental earthworks.  The most famous is shown here, the Spiral Jetty, which juts out into the Great Salt Lake in Utah.  I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by earth-moving on a large scale and have always  admired Smithson’s work.  

The reason I mention this now is that I found myself thinking smaller lately, painting smaller paintings for a smaller economy.  Part of this was a conscious decision but part was the result of just becoming a little more wary with all the turmoil in the world.  There has been a period of introversion marked by a noticeable withdrawal from thinking boldly.  Seeing this reminded me of the need to think big.  

I realized I had become a bit fearful of pushing myself, perhaps afraid of exposing my limitations.  I had lost a little faith in my own abilities, including the ability to adapt to new challenges.

I was being safe.  It was the retrogression that Goethe talks of in the quote above.  I was in the spiral.

This all flashed in my head within a few seconds of seeing the spiral jetty.  Funny how a single image can trigger a stream of thought with so many branches off of it.

I had forgotten that I had to trust myself and throw the fear of failure aside, that thinking bold almost always summons up the best in many people.  Once you say that you don’t give a damn what anyone says, that if you fail so be it, the road opens up before you and your mind finds a way to get you on it.

So I have to remember to think big.

To look past the horizon.  Just freaking do it.

Then progress will come…


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