San Francisco–based photographer Michael Light's (born 1963) fourth Radius book in his aerial series Some Dry Space: An Inhabited West journeys into the vast geological space and time of the Great Basin—the heart of a storied national "void" that is both actual and psychological, treasured as much for its tabula rasa possibilities as it is hated for its utter hostility to human needs.
Twelve thousand years ago most of the Great Basin was 900 feet underwater, covered by two vast and now largely evaporated Pleistocene lakes: the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the remnants comprising Pyramid Lake, Honey Lake, the Carson Sink and Walker Lake. The most famous portion of the former Lake Lahontan is the Black Rock Desert, the site of the fastest land speed record and the annual counterculture festival Burning Man. The topography now exposed by both Pleistocene lakes forms a mythic core to American Western concepts of space.
Published by Radius Books. Text by Rebecca Solnit, Lucy Lippard.
Until 2008 Nevada was the fastest-growing state in America. But the recession stopped this urbanizing gallop in the Mojave Desert, and Las Vegas froze at exactly the point where its aspirational excesses were most baroque and unfettered. In this third Radius Books installment of noted photographer Michael Light's aerial survey of the inhabited West, the photographer eschews the glare of the Strip to hover intimately over the topography of America's most fevered residential dream: castles on the cheap, some half-built, some foreclosed, some hanging on surrounded by golf courses gone bankruptcy brown, some still waiting to spring from empty cul-de-sacs. Throughout, Light characteristically finds beauty and empathy amidst a visual vertigo of speculation, overreach, environmental delusion and ultimate geological grace. Janus-faced in design, one side of the book plumbs the surrealities of "Lake Las Vegas," a lifestyle resort comprised of 21 Mediterranean-themed communities built around a former sewage swamp. The other side of the book dissects nearby Black Mountain and the city's most exclusive-and empty -future community where a quarter billion dollars was spent on moving earth that has lain dormant for the past six years. Following the boom and bust history of the West itself, Light's photographs terrifyingly and poignantly show the extraction and habitation industries as two sides of the same coin. Essays by two of the world's most celebrated cultural and landscape thinkers, Rebecca Solnit and Lucy Lippard, offer resonant counterpoint.
The greater Los Angeles area covers 4,850 square miles--the size of a small country--and holds almost 18 million people. Perhaps America’s largest human creation, it has been vilified and celebrated in equal measure since its inception. Is L.A. the face of the apocalypse, or an ultimate paradise at continent’s edge--or both? With LA Day/LA Night, photographer Michael Light continues his aerial examination of the arid American West by bringing together two opposing views of the city in a double-volume set. LA Day stares directly into the sun, which blasts the metropolis in a relentless and specific light. LA Night drifts over the city as it grows darker, and begins to resemble the starry sky vaulted above. Referencing Ed Ruscha, Peter Alexander, Julius Schulman and writers from Philip K. Dick to Raymond Chandler, LA Day/LA Night continues Los Angeles’s rich cultural legacy of examining its favorite schizophrenic subject--itself.
Published by Radius Books. Text by Trevor Paglen. Afterword by Michael Light
Located at 8,000 feet, 20 miles southwest of Salt Lake City in the Oquirrh Mountains, the Bingham Canyon copper mine is the largest manmade excavation in the world. More than half a mile deep, with a rim nearly three miles in width and a smelter stack only 35 feet shorter than the Empire State Building, Bingham has produced more copper than any mine in history. This volume presents San Francisco-based photographer Michael Light's series of breathtaking black-and-white aerial images of the Bingham Mine and Garfield Stack taken in the course of a single day. For the last several years, Light has become known for his aerial photos of the settled and unsettled areas of the American West, which reveal a fascination with geology, mapping and human impact on the land. These series have been published as limited edition, critically acclaimed artist's books; this is Light's first trade-edition release.