Precipice is the title given to a series of concurrent exhibitions by three artists: David Maisel, Jess Benjamin, and Mark Messersmith. Each artist is uniquely concerned with the interaction between humans, nature and the impact that this interaction has on the environment. The photographer David Maisel explores the potentially destructive ways in which the industrial use of the landscape sustains our way of life.
David Maisel is an artist working in photography and video. Among his chief concerns are the politics and aesthetics of radically human-altered environments, and how we perceive our place in time via investigations of cultural artifacts from both past and present. For over thirty years, Maisel has produced aerial photographs of compromised landscapes in a multi-chaptered series titled Black Maps, revealing the physical impact of activities such as mining, logging, urban sprawl, and military testing. These aerial views of human intervention on the landscape become compelling painterly abstractions with a strange beauty born of environmental degradation. Maisel is the recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts as well as many other awards and honors. His photographs have been the subject of seven monographs: Proving Ground (Radius, 2020); Mount St Helens: Afterlife (Ivorypress, 2017); Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime (Steidl, 2013); History’s Shadow (Nazraeli, 2011); Library of Dust (Chronicle, 2008); Cascade Effect (Nazraeli, 2008); Oblivion (Nazraeli, 2006); and The Lake Project (Nazraeli, 2004).