The Bridge at Hoover Dam
THE BRIDGE AT HOOVER DAM photography essay presents a focused return to my enduring interest in human-altered landscapes. As a species we choose to change nature when we define utilitarian, creative, or egotistic purposes that require it. We mark the land and transform it, and, once such alterations are complete, the landscape is slow to return to its natural state. These transformations may elicit differing and often dissonant responses. We may be intrigued, inspired, or seduced by changes made to the land as we establish an order, pattern, and structure that provide utility for our culture and ourselves. Yet, we may also be challenged by what these transformations entail. In photography, deep and potent portrayal of a subject may evoke a complex set of feelings that invite viewers to respond on multiple levels.
In the southwest United States, two structures on the Colorado River form a new dynamic relationship that both symbolically and concretely portray the complexity of human's interaction with nature. Hoover Dam, built in the 1930s, is arguably the most ambitious and influential structure in the 20th century development of the southwest US. Five hundred meters downstream, arching over the Black Canyon, and connecting Arizona and Nevada with the longest concrete arch span bridge in the Western Hemisphere, is the Bridge at Hoover Dam completed in late 2010. The river, the dam, and the bridge form a nexus that supplies water, electricity, and transportation infrastructure to a growing and increasingly dependent population from Los Angeles to Phoenix.
In March 2009, I encountered the Bridge under construction during a photographic road trip. The dramatic and metaphoric quality of the evolving bridge arching across a rugged canyon in the midst of the "Great Recession" made an immediate and lasting impression. With editorial support from The New York Times Magazine I began to document the Bridge, and continued the work as an extended personal project with final photography in January 2011.