Copyright 2015 Jamey Stillings
Photographer: Jamey Stillings (born Springfield, MO, resides Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA)
Publisher: Steidl Verlag (Germany)
Essays: Jamey Stillings, Robert Redford, Anne Wilkes Tucker and Bruce Barcott
Hardcover book with printed belly-band, sewn binding, four-color lithography, captions, line drawing, printed in Germany
Photobook designer: David Chickey
Notes: While driving north on I-15 from LA to Las Vegas and nearing the conclusion, one drives down and out of the mountain terrain towards the small city of Primm, clearly delineating California from the Nevada border. The descent provides a magnificent view of the Mojave Desert stretching out for miles ahead. As the descent continues towards Primm, there appears a strange apparition on the left out in the desert; three glowing towers amidst a field of small glowing objects. What this odd structure was mystified me until I recently read Jamey Stillings’ photobook The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar.
In October 2010, Stillings commenced an aerial photography project over the future site of the Ivanpaph Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert of California. At the end of 2013, Ivanpaph Solar became the world’s largest concentrated solar thermal power plant with the capacity to produce 377 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power 140,000 American homes. Stillings photographs, created in a documentary style, are equally fascinating and mysterious as the site itself. Stillings oscillates, perhaps similarly to the mirrors on the site, between grand and sweeping aerial landscapes of Michael Light to the abstract expressionist of David Maisel. What results is a mix of technological and artistic contemplation.
Stillings states in his essay “While black and white represent the tonal end points of imagery in this book, shades of gray bring structure, detail, and nuance to each photograph. And while our rash obsession in contemporary culture is to embrace extreme postions, real progress lies in understanding the importance and great complexity found between these poles.”
Additional Footnote: I was part of the 2016 PhotoBook Competition jury during which we selected Stillings’ photobook The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar as one of the three Best in Show.