527 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
October 30 – December 21, 2013
Danziger Gallery is pleased to inaugurate it’s representation of Michael Light with a solo show and survey of his aerial photographs from 2000 to the present.
Michael Light was born in 1963. The pre-eminent aerial photographer of his generation, he is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for photography and his work is in the collections of major museums from SF MoMA to the Victoria and Albert. Prior to taking up aerial photography, Light conceived of and put together the book Full Moon - the first look at NASA photography as fine art - and a project which was published in multiple editions selling several hundred thousand copies around the world.
For the last 15 years Light has been flying his own small aircraft primarily over the American West investigating how both man and nature make their mark on the landscape.
To date Light has completed 18 separate Western projects - each of which comprises an oversize handmade artist's book as well as more traditional prints. Largely documenting the impact of man and industry on the land (but not immune to the sublime) Light's subjects range from Utah's gold and copper mines and the (over)development of places like Sun City, AZ and Lake Las Vegas, NV to contrasting Arizona's Meteor Crater - the largest meteoric impact site in the Americas - with James Turrell's Roden Crater. Other projects cover sacred Hopi dwellings; the Great Basin and Mojave deserts; and Los Angeles by day and night.
In “Spatial Delirum: An Interview with Michael Light” published this month on BLDGBLOG.com by Geoff Manaugh and posted last week on The Atlantic Magazine. Michael talks at length about his photography. What follows is a brief excerpt in which he speaks about the future of photography.
“I should say, at this particular photographic moment, as a photographer myself, I feel overwhelmed. I have not figured out where photography is going. I don’t think anyone has. I certainly know that it’s changing, radically, and sometimes in ways that make me want to run back to the 19th century.
For one thing, everyone’s a photographer now, because everyone has a phone, and those cameras are getting very good. The cameras themselves are doing more and more of the work, as well, work that, traditionally, was the field of the photographer, so the quality of photographs—in the classic sense of things like quality of exposure, density, resolution, contrast, and so forth—is going up and up and up. And, of course, as you well know, there are now systems in place for total and instantaneous publishing of one’s work via the Internet. I think we are entering a world of total documentation.
Obviously, all of this visual information is going to continue to proliferate. I don’t know how to navigate my way through that. I tell myself—because I have my own methods, my own cameras, and my own crazy aerial platform—that my pictures have a view that you are not going to get from a drone.
Personal drones are going to proliferate, and our eyes, soon enough, are going to be able to go anywhere and everywhere without our bodies. Humans have a tremendous interest—they always have had—in extending themselves where they physically cannot go. That’s just picking up more speed now—it’s going faster and faster—and the density of the data is thickening, becoming smog.
I think that photography, or what we currently consider photography, will become more about the concept or the idea driving the picture than the actual picture itself. Maybe that has always been the case. Metaphors are obviously applicable to everything, and you can find them in everything, if you want to. It’s not so much the picture—or, it’s not so much the information in the picture—it’s the spin on it. Information does not equal meaning. Meaning is bigger than information.
I used to fly model aircraft as a kid. It’s a powerful fantasy: mounting a camera on a little electric helicopter and running it around the corner, lifting off over the fence, the hedgerow, the border, and seeing what you can see. I actually do it physically now, in airplanes, and I’m very invested in the physical experience of that. It’s a big part of my aerial work: the politics of transgressing private property in a capitalist society.
I may not be able to get into that gated community on the outskirts of Las Vegas—which is what I’m photographing now, a place called Lake Las Vegas—but, legally, I can get above it and I can make the stories and the images I want to make. I can still tell my own stories, and I do.”