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 most massive human creation, it has been legendarily vilified and celebrated in equal measure since its inception. Is LA the face of the apocalypse, or an ultimate paradise at continent’s edge—or both? With LA Day/LA Night, Radius Books continues photographer Michael Light’s ongoing 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, washing the metropolis in blasted, relentlessly specific light. LA Night drifts over it in an ever-darkening electric dream, until the vast city below reverses and begins to signify the starry night 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’ rich cultural legacy of examining its favorite schizophrenic subject—itself.
About the Artist
Born in 1963, Light received a B.A. in American Studies from Amherst College in 1986 and an M.F.A. in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1993. An artist broadly concerned with how humans relate to their larger surroundings, he published his first book Ranch with Twin Palms/Twelvetrees Press in 1993. From 1995 to 2000, Light worked with images from NASA’s Apollo photographic archive to reexamine the manned lunar explorations and the world they visited. Shifting a familiar icon towards issues of landscape, the sublime, and permeable boundaries between science and art, the project culminated in a book and a museum exhibition, both titled Full Moon. The book was published in June 1999, with eight editions released internationally. For the last fifteen years, Light has aerially photographed over settled and unsettled areas of American space, pursuing themes of mapping, vertigo, human impact on the land, and various aspects of geologic time and the sublime. A private pilot and 2007 Guggenheim photography fellow, he is currently working on an extended aerial photographic survey of the arid West. Radius Books published the first of a planned multi-volume series of this work, Bingham Mine/Garfield Stack, in Fall 2009. Light is represented by Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica and Galerie Michael Wiesehoefer, Cologne.
ABOUT THE WRITER
David L. Ulin is a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, and other publications. He recently edited Another City, an anthology of contemporary Los Angeles poetry and prose.
Lawrence Weschler, a graduate of Cowell College of the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been, since the early Eighties, a staff writer for The New Yorker. His “Passions and Wonders” series of books currently comprises Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin (1982); David Hockney’s Cameraworks (1984); Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders (1995); A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces (1998); and Boggs: A Comedy of Values (1999). He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award (for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992) and was recently granted a Lannan Literary Award. He has taught, variously, at Princeton, Columbia, UCSC, Bard, Vassar, and Sarah Lawrence, and is a contributing editor of McSweeney’s and Threepenny Review. Since 2001, Weschler has been the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University.
Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, Oregon: April 7-May1
“Aftershocks”, California Museum of Photography in Riverside: October 1-December 1