Peter Bacon Hales
|Peter Bacon Hales|
|Born||November 13, 1950|
|Occupation||Historian, professor, musician, and photographer|
|Genres||American Culture Studies, History of Photography|
|Notable work(s)||Silver Cities: The Photography of American Urbanization, 1839–1915; Atomic Spaces: Living on the Manhattan Project|
Peter Bacon Hales (born November 13, 1950) is an American historian, photographer, author, and musician specializing in American spaces and landscapes, the history of photography, and contemporary art.
Peter Hales is a professor in the Department of Art History and director of the American Studies Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He graduated from Haverford College in 1972, earning a B.A. in English and American Literature. After a time in New York working as a photographer and musician, he moved to Texas to begin his graduate education under the photographers Russell Lee and Garry Winogrand. He received both his M.A. (in 1976) and Ph.D. (1980) from the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in American Civilization under the tutelage of cultural historians William H. Goetzmann and William Stott[disambiguation needed]. His 1984 text Silver Cities: The Photography of American Urbanization, 1839–1915 charted the transformation of America through the mass-production and distribution of photographs; its Visual Culture focus on the rapidly urbanizing nation through exploration of U.S. photographers and photographs from antebellum America to World War I represented one of the first comprehensive studies of urban photography from a cultural-history standpoint.
His attention turned from urban America to the changes in its physical and cultural geography as westward expansion, settlement, and industrialization resulted in a transcontinental American culture. His second book, William Henry Jackson and the Transformation of the American Landscape used the life of a single photographer-artist-writer-explorer-painter whose life spanned 99 years, as a means to trace the changes in American attitudes toward the land. Over the next decades, his work expanded from the history of photography to wider studies of technology, modernization and land use. He published essays, contributions, monographs and catalog essays on topics ranging from the World's Columbian Exposition, methods of rephotographic surveying, and the geography of the art history survey text, to the images of atomic-tests in Life during the Cold War. His study of the "forced cultural landscapes" of the Manhattan Project, Atomic Spaces: Living on the Manhattan Project (1997) was runner-up for the Parkman Prize in American History and winner of the Herbert Hoover Prize in 20th Century American History. He has collaborated with a number of photographers and coauthors, including the photographers Mark Klett and Bob Thall; he has also served as a consultant and photographer for two large urban documentary projects centered in Chicago: the Changing Chicago Project of the later 1980s, for which he photographed social rituals of the upper class, and City2000, for which he served as historian-consultant and contributed large-format images of domestic spaces.
In 2006, he published an extensively revised and enlarged version of his first book, now renamed Silver Cities: Photographing American Urbanization, 1839-1939; the new version included more sophisticated studies of race, ethnicity and gender, and extended the work well into the 20th century, including studies of the urban photography of the Farm Security Administration.
In the beginning of the 21st century, his attention turned to the virtual world, both as subject and as means of gathering and presenting historical and cultural information. With his colleague Robert Bruegmann, he developed a website collecting and organizing visual documentation of the Chicago built environment, the Chicago Architecture Imagebase ; in addition, he has developed a collaborative public-history project on the postwar American suburb, Levittown, Long Island,  He is currently working on several texts, including a continuation of his Silver Cities project entitled Outside the Gates of Eden: The Dream of America From Hiroshima to Now. Further projects exploring the cultural landscape and virtual geographies of America include extended meditations on freeways, contrails and airports, the development of virtual environments such as MUDs (Multi-user domains), early interactive computer games such as Zork, and more contemporary incarnations of virtual environments like the Sims and Second Life. He publishes an ongoing series of essays online at Looking at America
Hales has exhibited widely throughout the United States. His photographs also appear in his own books and in those of other cultural historians.
- Fourth Street Photo Gallery, New York, 1976 (solo)
- Just Imagine Gallery, Austin, Texas, 1977
- Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, 1977
- California Institute for the Arts, 1979
- San Francisco Camerawork, 1981 (solo)
- “Grant Park,” Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, 1984
- Society for Contemporary Photography, 1985
- Edwynn Houk Gallery, Chicago, 1985
- “Descriptions,” Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, 1985
- “Road and Roadside,” Museum of Illinois, Springfield, 1987
- “Road and Roadside,” Art Institute of Chicago, 1987
- “Road and Roadside,” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1988
- “The Illinois Photographers’ Project,” Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, 1987
- “Gates of Eden: Americans and the Land,” Chicago Public Library Cultural Center, June and July, 1988 (one-person)
- “Chicago: Inside and Out,” Art Institute of Chicago, 1989
- “Changing Chicago,” Chicago Historical Society, 1989
- “New Photography,” The Museum of Contemporary Photography, 1998
- Hales, Peter Bacon (1984). Silver Cities: The Photography of American Urbanization, 1839–1915 (Revised and enlarged edition, 2006 ed.). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
- Hales, Peter Bacon (1984). William Henry Jackson. London: Macdonald and Co., Ltd.
- Hales, Peter Bacon; Mark Klett, photographer (1990). One City/Two Visions: San Francisco. San Francisco: Bedford Arts Publishers.
- Hales, Peter Bacon (1993). Construction the Fair: Charles Dudley Arnold and the World's Columbian Exposition. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago.
- Hales, Peter Bacon; Bob Thall, photographer (1994). The Perfect City: Photographs and Meditations. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Hales, Peter Bacon (1999). Atomic Spaces: Living on the Manhattan Project. Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
- Hales, Peter Bacon; Stu Cohen (2007). The Likes of Us: Photography and the Farm Security Administration. Boston: David R. Godine.
- Hales, Peter Bacon (2014). Outside the Gates of Eden: The Dream of America From Hiroshima to Now (2014 ed.). London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- 'Thomas Bender, "Pioneers of the Urban Image," New York Times Book Review,October 21, 1984, p.1; Robert Levine, "Semiotics for the Historian: Photographers as Cultural Messengers," Reviews in American History vol. 13, #3 (Sept. 1985), pp. 380-385.'
- George H. Roeder, Jr. "Filling in the Picture: Visual Culture," Reviews in American History, Vo. 26, #1 (March, 1998), p. 284.
- Wolfgang Kurt Hermann Panofsky, "Atomic Spaces: Living on the Manhattan Project," Journal of Cold War Studies 3.1 (2001), pp. 130-132.
- UIC Art History Department, Faculty Profiles, Peter Hales, Retrieved March 10, 2009.
- Mitchell Schwarzer, Zoomscape: Architecture in Motion (Princeton: Princeton Architecture Press, 2004), Hales, Atomic Spaces; Miles Orvell and Jeffrey Meikle, eds., Public Space and the Ideology of Place in American Culture (New York: Rodopi, 2009).
- Peter Hales UIC Art History Department faculty profile
- Peter Hales' homepage
- The Chicago Imagebase Project, begun in 1995 and codirected with Robert Bruegmann
- Levittown: Images of an Ideal Suburb; a project involving the solicitation of materials from founders and residents