Technological Topographies

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Power lines break through treetops, orange railings surround blue nuclear cooling tanks, and dormant equipment sits inside sterile science facilities. For a time in the late 1980s and early 1990s, American-born photographer Lewis Baltz, who a decade or two earlier had been a key player in what has been termed a 'New Topographic' style of photography, turned from taking images of industrial parks and other development-shaped landscapes to impossibly cold interiors molded around the needs of technology. His 89-91 Sites of Technology series employed both traditional photography and images pulled from surveillance cameras to capture such places as the Japanese Space Agency, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and the French National Centre for Meteorological Research as crisp, airless centers of power filled with unnatural color and razor sharp lines. The Galleria Civica di Modena, in Italy, is hosting an exhibition of large-scale prints of the work through November 18th, and the entire series has also been collected in a book for the first time. Published by Steidl Verlag, the catalogue could not only revel the series' influence on approaches to technology in the photography of the 1990s, but also rekindle Baltz's influence on a younger generation of architectural photographers.