David Maisel ‘s aerial photography mainly captures photographs that show human intervention to the natural environment.
He has presented landscapes of mining areas, water supply infrastructure and military testing sites. To all of these projects the visual result is striking and proves of the outcome of human activity to such areas and to the planet, in general. His images not only cause admiration for the vast beauty of each site, but also are food for thought about the environmental effect human activities have on each area. Aerial photography can present large alterations of the landscape in an immediate fashion. Maisel calls this photography style the “New Topography”, as his work shows the altered topography imposed on the natural landscape.
One of his best aerial photography projects is the “Terminal Mirage”, two collections of photographs taken of the area of the “Great Salt Lake” in Utah, US. The Great Salt Lake is one of the largest natural lakes of the world, existing for millions of years. The lake is rich in minerals which has drawn the interest of various chemical industries that have clustered in the area.
Each industry collects the water in concrete pools and depending on the element each factory collects, the water color changes and turns yellow, red, purple and green, creating a breathtaking patchwork.
Many of the aforementioned industries seem to cause environmental damaged to the natural environment, with some cases reaching the media, like the “Magnesium Corporation of America’s” case. The company was accused by the Environmental Protection US Agency for subsoil pollution with dioxins, a case which brought them to court.
Maisel claims that he cannot diagnose the cause of each pool’s coloring. He is also not in a position to verify whether the pools are colored from organic or chemical byproducts. He just claims that the “violent” intrusion of colors to the landscape is definitely an unusual situation caused by, possibly infectious human interference.
Eye catching and at the same time, food for thought, the beautiful and captivating aerial photography of David Maisel upset and disturb the viewer like true art should.