Cover image for Emmet Gowin : changing the earth : aerial photographs
Emmet Gowin : changing the earth : aerial photographs
Reynolds, Jock.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven, CT : Yale University Art Gallery in association with the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Yale University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
161 pages : illustrations ; 33 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TR810 .R45 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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Emmet Gowin has been taking aerial photographs of the landscape in the United States, Mexico, Czechoslovakia, Asia, and the Middle East for over twenty years. In his most compelling photographs, one witnesses how man's footprint has visually scarred and continually altered the earth's surface. This extraordinary book, published in conjunction with the first major touring exhibition of Gowin's photographs in over ten years, focuses on images created after 1986. That was the year Gowin began to extend his aerial photography explorations in America by recording images of military test sites, missile silos, ammunition storage and disposal facilities, coal mining, pivot irrigation, offroad motor traffic, and more. The book also surveys his more recent works, which focus on other regions of the world, including the battlefields of Kuwait, new golf courses in Japan, and the chemo-petrol industries of the Czech Republic. Gowin's richly toned black-and-white images have been characterized as "immorally gorgeous," since at a distance even his most disturbing images can appear to be beautiful.

In this exquisitely produced volume, Jock Reynolds provides an overview of Gowin's aerial photography and places it in the context of his earlier work and that of such photographers as Carleton Watkins, Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, and Frederick Sommer. Philip Brookman illuminates Gowin's recent work in the Czech Republic, while Terry Tempest Williams discusses Gowin's images from the American West, especially his Nevada Test Site series.

Author Notes

Jock Reynolds is the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery and has published extensively on American photography and contemporary art. Philip Brookman is curator of photography and media arts at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Terry Tempest Williams is a nature writer and environmental activist residing in Utah.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

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

Publisher's Weekly Review

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). (May 20) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved