Some of Emmet Gowin's black-and-white aerial photographs look almost like abstract expressionist paintings or etchings until captions like "Weapons Disposal Trenches," "Off-Road Traffic Pattern" and "Effluent Holding Pond" make clear the concrete implications of these weirdly beautiful formations. Changing the Earth, which accompanies the celebrated photographer's first traveling exhibition in ten years, documents man-made incursions in the natural landscape. The mostly aerial views show strip mines, power stations, munitions storage facilities and golf courses in the U.S., Czech Republic, Japan and Israel. Editor Jock Reynolds, director of the Yale University Art Gallery, offers an overview of Gowin's work and includes an interview with Gowin by Corcoran Gallery curator Philip Brookman and an essay by environmental activist Terry Tempest Williams (Red).
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Gowin's stunning aerial photographs of the earth, of landscapes gouged and poisoned by man in the service of war, mining, and agriculture, exist somewhere between color and black and white, the microscopic (many images look cellular) and the panoramic, the abstract and the undeniably real. These are bird's-eye views of rivers, deserts, mountains, and wheat fields, of Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation, bomb disposal craters in Utah, a huge toxic water treatment facility in Arkansas, strip mines in the U.S and the Czech Republic, and a staggering series of the vast and haunted Nevada Test Site. Gowin bears witness to restricted and violated places unknown and unseen by most people, and he does so with such tender and loving attention to composition, detail, and tone the viewer feels as though he or she is looking at photographs of the scarred body of a loved one. An interview with the artist and essays by Reynolds, director of the Yale University Art Gallery, and environmental activist Terry Tempest Williams affirm the lyrical beauty and sense of suffering and compassion that Gowin's unique and prayerful photographs evoke. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved