Behold the Giant, Glorious Structures Keeping Nature at Bay
Nothing about a dam or a sea wall or an artificial island is natural, yet engineers try so hard to make them blend into the landscape. Claudius Schulze finds this paradox fascinating. “They are idyllic, beautiful landscapes,” he says. “However, in each of these photos there is something else. The real message is in the details.”
The details, he says, lie in the threats these enormous infrastructure projects are designed to mitigate. Floods. Avalanches. The mounting threats posed by climate change. He explores this dichotomy in State of Nature, an ongoing series of more than 250 photographs of massive infrastructure. The German photographer grew fascinated by these feats of civil engineering in 2007 when he read Natural Risks and Social Disasters. Eager to see some of them for himself, he spent five years researching locations. Then he hit the road in an old van with his cat Blackie. He often spends months on the road, wandering as far as the UK and Bosnia.
Once he arrives at a location, Schulze hops into the van’s cherrypicker with his large format camera on a tripod and goes up up up until he’s about 35 feet high. The vantage point allows him to capture the expansive scene. Roaming around in a van also keeps him on the down low. “Because my van looks like a construction vehicle, I can literally drive anywhere I want and photograph anything,” he says.
His airy images provide sweeping panoramas of humanity’s constant struggle to keep nature at bay. Seen through Schulze’s lens, the world’s dams, sea walls, and artificial islands look more like classical paintings than engineering marvels. Just as the engineers intended.
State of Nature is now available as a photo book.