Photograph by Lewis Baltz // ’21/21 The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California’.
Lewis Baltz is best known as one of the icons of ‘The New Topographic’ movement of the late seventies. His contribution consisted mainly of photographs of industrial warehouses in Southern California. He offered a critical perspective of urban and suburban life through bleak concrete walls and prefabricated buildings. His images resonate with impersonality and claustrophobia. I particular admire his ethos regarding the display of his work. He often prefers presenting his photographs in series or collectively as groups, mainly as a way of avoiding subconscious elevation or devaluation of one image over another by the viewer, if viewed separately. His use of a grid layout is particularly inspiring and satisfying to the eye.
In terms of relating his influential work to my own practice, I knew early on that I wanted to employ similar aesthetic qualities in this medium and large format rotation. I have always had an interest in the banal qualities of the city, and by beautifying these attributes I believe pedestrians, viewers and people can become more aware and engaged with their surroundings. Most people are blessed with sight, but not enough people see. Therefore, for the square format landscape section of this project, I wanted to explore more abstracted methods of landscape image making, as well as more traditional practices. For example, during one location shoot I focussed on the details of my architectural study. I envisioned a series of three square format landscape photographs, with at least one in the style of Lewis Baltz. I felt that this would assist the coherency of the entire project, blending the Bernd & Hilla Becher style large format architectural study with the square format landscapes, and finally with the environmental portrait.