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Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air Paperback – May, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1St Edition edition (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500284148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500284148
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #825,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Mesmerizing....Look long enough and the obsession of photographer-pilot MacLean begins to resemble genius. -- Los Angeles Times, Christopher Reynolds, 27 April 2003

Natural and constructed landscapes all reveal their own beauty under MacLean's lense. -- Library Journal, Sheila Devaney, 1 June 2003

About the Author

Alex MacLean's books include Designs on the Land: Exploring America from the Air; Look at the Land: Aerial Reflections on America and, with James Corner, Taking Measures Across the American Landscape.

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Customer Reviews

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Quality photos and photo reproduction.
JaySeaAre
This the third book I have bought of Alex MacLean's stunning aerial photographs of the American landscape.
Robin Benson
I give my highest recommendation for anyone and everyone.
S. Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on August 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This the third book I have bought of Alex MacLean's stunning aerial photographs of the American landscape. The other two, `Look at the Land' (1993) and `Across the American Landscape' (1996) were lovely to look at but this latest book with 430 photos is excellent.

MacLean captures the changing American scene beautifully and in pin sharp detail. Unfortunately, none of the photos are dated and many of them appeared in both his earlier books so some of them could be ten years old. The various chapters cover America from above though the concentration is on the man-made environment, including such delights as parking, city grid, pollution, sprawl, abandonment and more. These might seem dreary objects to photograph but MacLean can make a half-full parking lot look exciting and in many cases, when seen from above, so many of these images have a definite abstract art look about them. The agriculture photos, of huge fields stretching into the horizon, must be seen to be believed.

Comprehensive though the coverage is there is one area of the landscape MacLean has not been able to cover, the huge amount of land controlled by the military. Some of their activities would make fascinating photos.

You might get the impression looking through the pages that open land in the US is fast disappearing but the reality is that the hand of man affects less than ten percent of the nation, the remainder is just open country.

Get this fascinating book if you want to see what the American landscape looks like from a view that most of us will never normally see.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click on 'customer images' under the cover.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Wilson on July 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
Most of us who do not fly very often are mesmerized by the aerial views we get out of the tiny portal windows in commercial airliners. "Designs on Land" gives the reader those views without the neck-craning or the other discomforts of flying.
This book was intended mainly as a photographic recording of the aesthetics and unintentional beauty/coherence of the changes and structures which mankind has brought to pass on this continent. However, I am not a student of landscape architecture or photography. As someone who is conservation-oriented, I found Maclean's photos to be literally jaw-dropping. He is immensely effective at showing the overpowering impact that our species has had on the land.
Even for those who have no interest in landscapes, design, or the environment this book is still a "can't-put-it-down" coffee table book.
I give my highest recommendation for anyone and everyone.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dr Lawrence Hauser on June 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
Alex S. MacLean is an architectural geologist with an impressionist's eye for composition and light. He is a pilot and a gifted photographer as well. The consistently fascinating imagery he has created by fusing all these talents into a rigorous and aesthetically gorgeous body of work is on splendid display within the pages of Designs On The Land which ably demonstrates how uniquely important an aerial vertex is to a complete understanding of human interaction with the planet Earth. I recently drove thousands of miles through the high desert southwest and had a marvelous opportunity to appreciate that landscape from a mostly horizontal vertex. What a revelation to see the same tableaux from above! So much that is only hinted at at ground level reveals itself completely from above. The central thesis of Designs On The Land is that human transformation of the environment is among the most revealing indicators of man's developmental and evolutionary status. By extension, aerial views of the results of man's activities on the land provide a powerful tool for interpreting and understanding this interaction. As with any authentic synthesis, Designs On The Land functions on many levels simultaneously. Most significantly, the images presented in this critically important portfolio are simply beautiful and moving; both compositionally and as sophisticated studies in shadow, light and color. But aside from the captivating imagery, this volume contains a wealth of data that provide for informed consideration of land use protocols, environmental degradation and pollution, and the shifting utilization of land over time, to name but a few of topics taken up here.Read more ›
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By PWR on February 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a high school Geometry teacher intrigued by patterns in nature. My husband loves geography and aviation. Both of us absolutely adore this book!! The photos are detailed and beautiful, full of patterns and small surprises, mixed with visual lessons about man's ingenuity and nature's indomitability. We each have browsed through pages of the book in 5 spare minutes; and we each have spent hours intrigued by the sameness and the variety of the images. The U.S. is a gorgeous and spacious country, and Alex S. Maclean has done shown us views of it that we seldom get to see.
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