Michael Light often snaps his photos from a two-seater plane — at a bumpy 70 mph — that he pilots himself at the same time, but you’d never know it from his well-composed aerial shots. From swimming-pooled suburbs in Phoenix to razed hills awaiting their luxury homes in Nevada, Light has been documenting the western U.S.’s unique topography from the air for the past decade.
In his series on Black Mountain, Nevada, Light’s photos put viewers in the plane with him as he glides over 640 acres of dynamite-flattened hilltops, carved through with pristine roads and cul de sacs linking graded house foundations. But there are no houses. No lawns, no pools, no sidewalks. No guard-staffed gates. This is the site of the Ascaya luxury housing development, which has lain dormant since the economic crash of 2008.
“Once they get built, it’s hard to un-build them,” says Light. From the air the sculpted earth reads like a strange code cut into the brown hills.
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