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David Maisel : Proving Ground

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“The majestic beauty of barren landscapes and weapons of mass destruction, revealed in the hands of a master photographer.”   —Richard Danzig, 71st Secretary of the Navy David Maisel’s Proving Ground comprises aerial and on-site photographs made at Dugway Proving Ground, a vast military compound covering nearly 800,000 acres in a remote region of Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert. A primary mission of Dugway is to develop, test, and implement chemical and biological weaponry and defense programs. The site is key to the national security arena and an enigma to almost everyone else. As with Maisel’s other subjects of investigation, Proving Ground is freighted with questions surrounding power, secrecy, land use, and an abiding skepticism toward technology and human endeavor. After more than a decade of inquiry to the Pentagon, Maisel was granted access to Dugway in order to photograph the terrain, testing facilities, and zones of toxic weapons deployment. Maisel began by photographing at ground level, focusing on structures related to chemical weapons dispersal patterns. He moved then to an aerial perspective to create abstracted, immersive images of weapons testing...

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