Santa Fe, New Mexico based photographer Bryan Steiff completed his BFA in photography at the Ohio State University (’99) and an MFA (‘2004) in photography from Columbia College Chicago. During graduate school he served as the graduate assistant to the department’s visiting artist program and worked as a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. He was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Photography at Columbia College Chicago from 2004-2015, receiving two Part-time faculty Development grants. Steiff was an artist-in-residence at the University of Chicago Laboratory School during spring semester in 2012. His work has been collected, published and exhibited throughout the United States.
Wind examines and documents the ever-expanding infrastructure for producing wind energy in the United States and Europe. A dramatic surge in the construction of massive wind farms, small commercial applications, and the emerging residential use of energy generating wind turbines, is creating changes in the landscape in profound ways. While flying into Copenhagen, I was struck by the turbines spinning in the Baltic Sea between Denmark and Sweden. From the air, these white forms brought to mind the small mobile sculptures of Alexander Calder, standing in great contrast to the dark water.
While both America and Europe are installing new turbines in massive numbers, the political climate in which they come to exist is vastly different. Europe has integrated wind energy almost seamlessly into their infrastructure with minimal friction. In America, the very notion of climate change is met with skepticism if not flatly denied by half of the political spectrum. In Denmark, people fish off the jetty directly under the large turbines, seemingly unaware of their presence. In the United States people fall ill with the psychosomatic disease Wind Turbine Syndrome.
In the years since the watershed 1975 exhibition The New Topographics, landscape photography has shifted from a focus on beauty to a focused scrutiny of the hand of man on the world. These examinations normally examine man’s interventions on the land though a negative lens. These images set out to investigate our shaping of the landscape with positive intentions.
Whether viewing the high-density installations engaging the landscape like gigantic sculptural interventions, or the smaller commercial and residential fixtures that speak of practicality and environmental concerns, the turbines inevitably ask us to re-address our visual experience of the landscape. These dramatic symbols of renewable resources and green technology vividly evidence the hand of man on the landscape in a way not seen since the massive post World War II infrastructure development in America and rebuilding of post war Europe.
To view more of Bryan’s work please visit his website.