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Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth Hardcover – June 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.

From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Series: Yale University Art Gallery
  • Hardcover: 164 pages
  • Publisher: YU Art Gallery; 1St Edition edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300093616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300093612
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 11.2 x 13.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dr Lawrence Hauser on June 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Like a great deal of aerial photography (Bradford Washburn's naturalistic mountain work immediately comes to mind in this connection), Emmet Gowin's meticulously detailed portfolio depicting man's ambition writ large upon the surface of our planet can often be 'read' as much as abstract art as documentary record. As art, this series of images of a wounded planet is so deceptively compelling it is easy to become lost in the sensuousness of the aesthetic moment Gowin repeatedly creates and forget that the subject matter being systematically explored is intrinsically disturbing and of concern. Indeed, the experience of finding so much beauty in landscapes of man-made desolation and ruin is unnerving. Yet it is undeniable that from a distance the patterns on the Earth made by irrigation pivots, toxic chemical ponds, missile burial trenches, mining pits, and numerous other manifestations of human 'development' without limits are endlessly unique and dramatic. Paradoxically, it is precisely this nexus of visually stimulating, geometrically intricate imagery generated in the context of wanton exploitation and destruction of the land that sustains the narrative and aesthetic power of Changing The Earth. One is absorbed in the beauty of the photography just long enough to catch sight and become painfully aware of the pervasive, intensely consequential, problem that demands attention and thought. Thus lessons for the future abound in the pages of this volume! One day our way of taking the Earth for granted by first depleting its resources for immediate gain and then dumping what is no longer wanted or useful wherever is convenient, will be seen as the opulent conceit and obscene luxury that it surely is. Until that day, studies like Changing The Earth bare witness to our collective folly, greed and irresponsibility.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Murdoch on April 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book despite it's somewhat horrific subject matter has a beauty so deep and profound it restores my faith and interest in Black and White image making. Beautifully printed it is a book that any budding black and white landscape photographer should own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Carlson on April 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
[ [ASIN: 0300093616 Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth] ]
I had seen the show of Emmet Gowin's photographs at the Corcoran and was moved by the haunting beauty of the images. After being reintroduced to the work I decided to buy the book for myself and I am glad I did. It allows me to spend more time with Gowin's images and contemplate the many layers of realization and feeling locked into the photographs. Even if we didn't know or recognize the source the work we would still be haunted by the natural and human made melancholic patterns of line, space and color of the photographs themselves.
David Carlson
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Alexander on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Changing the Earth' is a collection of beautiful and compelling aerial photographs that were taken over 14 years. Where Adams has shown us the beauty of the land before man has stepped upon it, Gowin shows us what the land looks like after man has used it. Gowin is one of the best printers (photographic) in the world and quality of his work is very obvious in this book.
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By Barrie Lynn Bryant on April 27, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gowin is second to none. I love his work. This book is great, too. I first saw his aerials in his highly sought after EMMET GOWIN: PHOTOGRAPHS hardcover monograph. Reproductions are very nice in this volume, too. I missed seeing the exhibition of this work in Billings, MT due to lack of funding by the institution. Too bad for me since I could have seen it in Salt Lake City earlier, but had planned instead to see it in Billings. Again, too bad for me. I would have loved to see his original gelatin silver prints in person. He's a master printer, and his books are masterfully printed as well thanks to his associate Richard Benson.
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