American photographer Alex Maclean trained as an architect before obtaining his pilot’s license to take aerial photos. He worked for other architects, community planners and environmentalists before establishing his artistic practice. The result of this latter endeavour can be seen in this excellent exhibition at Beetles + Huxley.
Documenting man’s impact on the natural world, Maclean gives a rare perspective on the world. Comparisons can easily be drawn withEdward Burtynsky, as both artists use the stark geometry of human intervention to create remarkable images. Colourful mining operations, logistics and aeroplanes in the desert make for familiar, but not unwelcome, subjects.
What sets Maclean apart is his depth of field; rather than the objective bird’s eye view, the artist often shoots at a shallower angle, giving a more human view of the unfolding landscape. His coverage of simple leisure pursuits - waterparks and beaches - is joyful. Set in poignant contrast are the photos of our environmentally damaging efforts to build golf courses in the Nevada desert.
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