Mark Klett

Mark Klett photographs the intersection of cultures, landscapes and time. His background includes working as a geologist before turning to photography. Klett has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Buhl Foundation, and the Japan/US Friendship Commission. His work has been exhibited and collected nationally and internationally for over 35 years. He is the author of fifteen books including Reconstructing the View (University of California Press, 2012), The Half Life of History (Radius Books, 2011), Saguaros (Radius Books, 2007), Yosemite in Time (Trinity University Press, 2005, with Rebecca Solnit and Byron Wolfe), Third Views, Second Sights (Museum of New Mexico Press 2004), and After the Ruins (University of California Press, 2006). Mark Klett is Regents’ Professor of Art and Distinguished Sustainability Scholar at Arizona State University. I began making photographs of the Phoenix metropolitan area in 1982. By the mid 1990’s an interest in growth and change led me to rephotograph historic images of early developments in the Phoenix valley, searching for the original photographers’ camera positions and repeating their pictures using the same vantage points and lighting (my earlier works on the techniques used may be seen in the books Second View, University of New Mexico Press 1984, and later Third Views, Museum of New Mexico Press 2004). I also began to make new photographs with the intention that they be revisited and rephotographed sometime in the future. The Phoenix Transect project comes directly from precedents established by two earlier works. In 1993 I helped direct a project called “Water as Cultural Reflection,” that resulted in an interactive CD-ROM and exhibition of rephotographs, photographs, and video interviews related to how water was thought of and used in the Phoenix area. Later in 2003 many of the photographs from the “Water” project were revisited in another rephotographic work completed with collaborators Michael Lundgren and Mathew Lord. My interests also include examining the relationship between time and change, exploring the ways media and visualization methods shape perceptions of places, working with artifacts left by many layers of human occupation, and exploring the role of the photographer as both observer and participant in creating documentary works. The Phoenix Transect project results from my desire to combine personal research and fieldwork with my responsibilities as an educator.


“When we talk about an object of desire, we are really talking about a cluster of promises we want someone or something to make to us and make possible for us. …the surrender to the return to the scene where the object hovers in its potentialities is the operation of optimism as an affective form.” […]


The sites of historic photographs of the Phoenix Metropolitan area have been relocated and the views repeated (rephotographed), sometimes on several occasions. New sites have also been created for the purpose of rephotography at a later date.