How did the American West, a vast expanse of land widely characterized by aridness, become home to sprawling megacities, epicenter of the entertainment and tech industries, and a primary source of agricultural products, in short an integral part of American Power?
Hydraulic Empire is a long-term project striving to explore the past, present and future of what is quite simply the most ambitious, in technological accomplishments and wealth created, semi-desert civilization project in History.
Ever since the Reclamation Act (1902), a fierce ambition to tame geological and hydrological forces in a region the size of the European Union gave rise to a Promethean water manipulation infrastructure, comprising more than12, 000 dams, thousands of miles of canals and giant pumping stations.
The project visually investigates some of these emblematic sites and the modern oasis civilization made possible through them, but also unveils traces of stories beyond engineering prowess, a history of conflict and controversies, inescapable social repercussions or environmental damage.
Looking forward, the series takes a lucid and uncompromising look at the future prospects of such a remarkable human construction, driven by both defiance and denial, exposing its conspicuous frailties and imminent, acute challenges in a world of rapid climate change.
The West is not oblivious to all these vulnerabilities and has been actively trying to curb its unquenchable thirst through a combination of technology, conservation policies and intensified collaboration, but pressing questions remain: will it be enough?