Nature reorganized

The history of humanity is a story of organized action upon the land, whether that is considered as a complex ecology that includes living and non-living things or as a functionally empty surface for the imposition of efficient systems and forms. If a place teems with hidden riches then these can be extracted as valuable views and useful materials. Such organization of the natural and its opposite is one of the first and perhaps most fundamental architectural acts.

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The New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California

Photographs by Lewis Baltz

The New Industrial Parks is part of a monographic series developed in the 1970s (The Tract Houses, Maryland, Nevada and Park City) wherein the artist Lewis Baltz deals with wide-ranging cultural and philosophical questions about industrial zones in the urban landscape. By focusing his attention on the familiar, Baltz created a powerful work in his critical photographic approach to the built environment.

Under the harsh light of a rectilinear universe full of the closed doors and enigmatic façades of the new industrial parks, the artist gives life to surfaces and textures, captures both the opaque and the transparent, and seems to project, beyond the deceptively banal frontal views, the buildings’ entire life cycle. This tension between the difficulty of the subject and the formal beauty of the resulting images gives the work its visual power.