THE BRIDGE AT HOOVER DAM • The Mike O’Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge It is at the intersections of nature and the hand of man that the greatest visual, philosophical, environmental, and political energy exists. At these intersections, we discover something important about ourselves and our relationship to the world. -- JS How a structure and its creation are documented greatly impacts how it is remembered in history. Construction of the bridge downstream from Hoover Dam is unique both for its historical importance, by its proximity to the dam, and for its technical achievement, bridging the Black Canyon over the Colorado River with the longest concrete arch span in North America. The bridge challenges us to examine the juncture of nature and technology on a scale that is both grand and human. When I first photographed the bridge in March 2009, it immediately captured my imagination. Watching the bridge's construction, especially at night, was both inspiring and captivating. The photo essay, which developed from this initial encounter, allowed me to meld photographic and aesthetic sensibilities with a reawakened sense of childhood curiosity and awe. Photographically, the bridge as subject was creatively and technically challenging, dynamic, and transitory. The Bridge at Hoover Dam represents a focused return to an enduring interest in and fascination with man-altered landscapes. As a species, we choose to alter nature when we define utilitarian, creative or egotistic purposes that require it. We mark the land; transform it. Once such alterations are complete, the landscape is slow to return to its natural state. While it is easy and reflexive to respond to such changes in absolutes (any change to nature is evil OR all such change is both inevitable and desirable), a more reasoned approach is to realize such transformations elicit differing and often dissonant responses. We may be intrigued, inspired, indeed seduced, by changes made to the land as we establish an order, pattern, and structure that provides utility for ourselves and our culture. Yet, we may also be challenged by what this transformation entails. In photography, potent portrayal of a subject may evoke a complex set of feelings that allow viewers to respond on multiple levels. This is one intention of the bridge project. Over a two year period, I returned to the bridge again and again. As it evolved, each visit required fresh perspectives and visual inquiry. The opportunity to spend extended time with a single ‘subject’ brought a depth of understanding both to the approach and the resulting body of work. The overarching goals of The Bridge at Hoover Dam are to acknowledge the collective talents and labors of those who built the bridge, to place the bridge within the historical and aesthetic context of Hoover Dam and the American West, and to initiate a dialogue that the imposition of infrastructure within a natural environment inevitably summons. - Jamey Stillings, 2011 THE BRIDGE AT HOOVER DAM, published by Nazraeli Press, November 2011
Special thanks to T.Y. LIN INTERNATIONAL, Lead Bridge Design, for their generous support of the book.