Six large-scale, handmade artist’s books centerpiece Michael Light’s ongoing aerial photographic investigation into the complex landscapes of America. Shot with a large-format camera from small, self-piloted aircraft and rented helicopters, Bookworks highlights Light’s vision of vast, stunning beauty coupled with the bleakest realities of human manipulation of the environment.
New York Harbor 03.29.07, his second color aerial series, begins in New Jersey, rising out of the wetlands from which the entire Metropolitan area has been claimed. It scans over the deep layers of waterfront activity that characterize the area, revealing in wintry hues of grey, yellow and brown the refineries, bridges, shipping ports, airports, and highways built on the marshes of the larger Harbor.
Meditating on scale, geology, hubris and our insatiable hunger for materials, Bingham Mine/Garfield Stack 04.21.06 examines the world’s largest man-made hole, a copper mine outside Salt Lake City, Utah, and the nearby Garfield Smelter Stack, the tallest free-standing structure west of the Mississippi River. Rancho San Pedro 04.28.06 is a survey of the southern Los Angeles basin shot in color that focuses on oil extraction, refining, global shipping, automobile transportation, and land use in LA’s most blighted cities of Compton, Carson, and Dominguez. Other books include metropolitan Los Angeles shot in black and white by day and night, and Some Dry Space, surveying the arid desert valleys east of Los Angeles and into Nevada.
Each book encapsulates an element of performance, in that it is comprised of a single flight of intense observation. The darkness permeating the work – not only the velvety blacks, but also the edge of despair – is tenuously contained by the undeniable majesty, and even endurance, of the natural world, however marred and altered.