Book Review: American Monument

Uniform Gray

Lyn Davis certainly presents an interesting selection of `monuments' or rather man-made structures. When I first saw the book jacket I thought it would concentrate on monuments but I like the idea that this includes everything that was built upward. The hundred photos include a motel sign, lighthouses, military structures (antiballistic complex) abandonment (Albert Frey's Salton Sea marina) grain silos, a large tracked satellite dish, offbeat architecture (Gehry's huge binoculars at the entrance to the Chiat/Day building and Lautner's Chemosphere house, both in LA) and more. Mount Rushmore gets a look-in with a stunning shot of Washington's head sandwiched between two angled silhouettes of the mountain.

Certainly a rich and varied selection but I was very disappointed with the presentation after looking through the pages several times. The problem is the grayness of everything because of the sky, it is far too strong and overpowers the structures. I just wonder if most of the photos were shot in color with a strong blue sky which when processed into mono assumes much more tonal strength than the original color. The Becher's, with their industrial structures, carefully shot against a light sky background which held the photo together but didn't overpower the buildings as happens in so many of the photos in this book.

Admittedly all the photos in mono does hold the wide range of places and structures together as a unified whole (just like the Becher's work) but I feel the strength of the photos could just as easily have worked in color.

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Remarkable shot of Washinton's head at Mount Rushmore.

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Right: Albert Frey's deserted clubhouse at the Salton Sea, California.

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What else but the military.

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