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Lewis Baltz: The New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California

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REVIEW

Scalo, 2001.108pp. £25.Distributed by Thames and Hudson

The proliferation of business or industrial parks, with their standard-issue sheds and rudimentary landscape, has radically changed the look of Britain in the last two decades or so. They have created the kind of terrain that Andrew Cross, for example, documents in his photographs of Swindon (AJ 30.8.01), or that architect-film-maker Patrick Keiller explores in Robinson in Space .

In the US, photographer Lewis Baltz was there at the beginning of the process. Linked then with the New Topographics movement, whose practitioners looked coolly at what housing developments and the like were doing to the land, Baltz took the industrial parks of California as his subject. The long out-of-print volume in which his images were collected has just been reissued by the Swiss publisher Scalo.

Predominantly seen close to, head on, and flattened into two dimensions, the bland facades of these buildings form tight geometric patterns, only disrupted by forlorn and token trees. When, intermittently, the camera retreats, the surrounding landscape comes in three guises: wasteland, tarmac, and corporate cropped grass.

These photographs, first published in 1974, were all too prescient.

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