The evolution of the Ivanpah Solar Facility
An artist statement by Jamey Stillings:
I am fascinated by the energy and tension that bursts from humans’ collision with the natural world.
Our species uniquely modifies the environment, either for our perceived needs or for our enjoyment. Occasionally, we consider the future consequences of our actions. More often, however, we focus myopically on how land and natural resources can benefit us in the short term.
We are now at a critical juncture in the evolution of the human race. How we choose to live on Earth in the next few decades—with our rapidly growing population and expanding patterns of consumption—may determine not only our prospects for survival, but also the ultimate viability of the global ecosystem.
Over the past six years, my work has focused on the development of large-scale renewable energy. I began this work in the American West in 2010, with a flight over the future site of the Ivanpah Solar Facility in California’s portion of the Mojave Desert. Completed in February 2014, Ivanpah Solar is one of the world's largest concentrated solar thermal power plants, with the capacity to produce 392 megawatts of electricity: enough to power 140,000 American homes.
Renewable energy projects such as Ivanpah Solar raise challenging questions about land and resource use, illuminating differing perspectives and contradictions, from the environmental movement to the energy industry and from local communities to the general public. Though Ivanpah Solar is located in the United States, the issues that surfaced during its planning and construction are global and relevant to any environmentally responsible large-scale project.
In our inexorable quest for energy that meets the growing demands of a consumptive culture, we are transforming our natural, rural, and urban landscapes at an accelerating pace. We must examine such transformations with both an aesthetic and critical eye. To think consciously about the decisions we make (or that are imposed upon us) we need to see these changes.
Aerial photography is a principal component of my work as an artist. I explore perspectives distinct from those found on earth's surface, revealing insights otherwise concealed.
Renewable energy projects are being built around the world at a remarkable pace. By documenting these changes, I strive to create imagery relevant both to our present-day collective conversation and to an eventual historical perspective of this era on Earth.