Reprinted from Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime, Steidl, 2013.
"Photography is a medium well-suited to recording and imagining the world. It is a cipher for knowledge and a precise yet malleable cataloguing system that can be used to make sense of things that are not readily identifiable. And it can be terrifyingly particular in its results. Something beautiful and disquieting happens when David Maisel trains his camera on unfamiliar tracts of land that have been radically reshaped by mechanized activity and environmental neglect. The stains and detritus of mining, logging, and other similarly invasive industrial processes have been an inextricable part of the American landscape for almost two centuries. Although at ground level we may barely notice this topography of open wounds, the view from above is altogether a different matter. This has been Maisel’s principal photographic subject for almost three decades. His quest has taken him up into the air and toward the boundaries of the unknown to unveil a world that most of us have not seen before."