May 10 2013

Slate: A Shocking Look at America’s Altered Landscapes

There is an overwhelming sense of disbelief when looking at David Maisel’s aerial photographs of open-pit mines, toxic waste sites, logging, freeways and other scenes that mark the toll humans have left on earth.

But the images found in Maisel’s recent book Black Maps—American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime, published by Steidl, are all unaltered photographs of landscapes and the endless array of colors and strange patterns are abstracted visions of environmental devastation of land.

Maisel first went up in a plane in 1983 over Mount St. Helens with one of his teachers, photographer Emmet Gowin. Because he had initially studied architecture, Maisel felt comfortable looking at the land from a similar spatial perspective.

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