Temporal Layering, Newport Beach, California
From the Land-Site Displacement series, 1982-1984
From the portfolio Earth Edges
Laurie Brown, American, born 1937
Brown's panoramic photographs of plowed earth appear as barren as an uninhabited planet but they are actually construction sites along the coast of southern California. The scale of these vast, empty vistas inspired the artist to combine multiple images, a device that expands our view of the scene while also disrupting it. The photographs reveal the harshness of a landscape stripped bare by human intervention, yet Brown's titles are poetic and her compositions celebrate the stark formal contrast of earth and sky. Her use of the dye destruction process-with its sparkling, saturated color-gives maximum impact to her limited tonal palette and is another clue to her appreciation of the ambivalence of destruction and construction in these places.
"What is interesting to me is the tension between the social, technological devastation of the land and the elemental, mythical, heroic aspects of it," Brown said in conversation in 2000. "You can see both of those things in these sites."