Print: The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar by Jamey Stillings

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First of all, Jamey Stillings is a good dude. How do I know this? Because I know his children, and his children are two of the coolest people I know. Smart, kind, passionate and inquisitive. Just like the old man. Jamey is a real photographer. Real skills, real knowledge, real jobs for real wages and a real career. But when you talk to Jamey you get a lot more than f-stops.

As I get older I have less interest in photography unless said photography brings something new to me. A new look, view, insight or angle. Or, even better, new knowledge. I’m also less interested in passing the time talking photo-shop. Get it? Not Photoshop…but photo-shop. Okay, I’ll stop. What I mean is I’m not as inclined to get myself involved in a conversation that is strictly photography. It’s like I’ve run out of talk in regard to images. So when it comes to new projects, new books, new promotions, I’m a hard sell.

When Jamey does something static, meaning something in print, I know it’s time for me to pay attention, and his latest publication is further proof that when he does something we all benefit. The photobook world could be crudely divided into two categories. Artist-driven-book. Story-driven-book. I think it says a lot about someone when they tend to focus on the story books, and Jamey certainly does this. His first book, The Bridge at Hoover Dam, also on my bookshelf, is a total gem. This oversized book documents the construction of the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge that spans the Colorado River. This bridge belongs to the world really, and to pull back the veil on what it took to create this beast is truly astounding. Within the first four pages of the book you realize you are looking at a historical document that will serve humanity until the end of time. Seriously. This isn’t a “look at me,” book, or some over designed, hipster art book. This book doesn’t need an explanation or Instagram account.

Jamey’s latest, The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar is an eccentric sibling to his prior work. And when I say “eccentric” I actually mean weird in all the best ways. First off is the subject matter. Jamey managed to find something the sun was just beginning to rise upon, no pun intended. This space, this place, is a reflection of where our world is headed. Out there in the middle of nowhere. Lost to the world but not because it was buried under the sand. Nope. It was kinda lost because maybe nobody was looking for it. Until now. Also, the book is a spine on top model. I LOVE these books. Just the physical requirements of viewing are worth the price of admission. This book was printed by Steidl. If you don’t know who Steidl is please drive to your local police station and turn yourself in under the charge of “fraud,” because if you don’t know who this publisher is you actually aren’t a photographer at all. You are masquerading. Steidl is the THE guy. What that means is the book itself just won best initial quality in all categories. It’s beautiful and the printing makes me ill. It’s so good. Each page glows like an old silver print.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that the foreword was written by Robert Redford. The introduction was written by Anne Wilkes Tucker, and the essay by Bruce Barcott. Now, I know that many of you will be sidetracked by The Sundance Kid and the idea that Hollywood was involved, well, at least via Utah or wherever he keeps himself. But the photo-geek will be saying “NO WAY, Anne Wilkes Tucker!” She’s a legend.

When I get past the design, the printing, the copy, and the fact I know the artist, I’m left with only one thing. The photographs. There they are. Staring at me. Full frontal. Wham. The images reveal another world. I find myself asking “What the Hell am I looking at?” and “Why don’t I know what these things are?” And that’s the beauty of a good book. Jamey just took me to a hidden world. A fantasy-land of technology, nature and the future mirrored through the right now.The images are beautiful. They would look good printed 4×6 inches or 4×6 feet or even 4×6 meters. The images make me think. Wonder. Contemplate. And for this I say “Thanks Jamey.”
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