David Maisel
[Photographer, b. 1961, New York, lives in San Francisco.]

 I can’t let myself ever make pictures that are beautiful unless there’s some price that’s been paid. 
 …pictures aren’t facts. There’s nothing factual about them. They’re mental space. That’s what abstraction is about, making a kind of psychological space. 
 I seek to reveal the landscape in something other than purely visual terms, the photograph transcribing it as an archetypal space of destruction and ruin that mirrors the darker corners of our consciousness. 
 Today, I feel that photography has an unrealistic burden placed on it to solve things; to be true. But I think art can function on other levels besides that. 
 I want the images to be troubling. You’re seduced by the incredible images and their strange unworldly beauty, and then you find out what they’re about and you’re betrayed. It parallels the ways we are seduced as a contemporary society into believing that how we live doesn’t matter. 
 ...we no longer trust beauty as a serious means of investigation. But it can be... In fact, beauty can be incendiary; it can be subversive; it can make us cringe. The kind of beauty that interests me most is one that possesses an element of terror, an awful beauty—beauty not as salve, but as a weapon of sorts. 
 For me, then, photography is an act of mapping: making something that represents something else. 
 The limits of photography have always existed in a changing, fluid dynamic form. Cameras, lenses, papers, films, and, yes, digital technologies come and go. They are the current on which photography rides, but not the substance of what makes a photograph a worthy work of art. 
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