Emmet Gowin

Changing the Earth

Jock Reynolds; With an essay and interview by Terry Tempest Williams and Philip Brookman

View Inside Price: $45.00

April 10, 2002
128 pages, 10 1/2 x 12 1/2
108 quadratones
ISBN: 9780300093612

Published in association with the Yale University Art Gallery

Out of Print

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.

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.

“A sumptuously printed volume. The exhibition that spawned this catalog is the first major presentation of Gowin’s work in over a decade. . . . Changing the Earth is billed as a retrospective of sorts, it is fair to assume that anyone aligned with Gowin’s aestheticized treatment of these deadly scars in the landscape will find many future ‘beauty spots.’”—Stephen Chalmers, Afterimage

"The rich patina of Gowin’s photographs is sumptuously reproduced in the accompanying book, Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth."—Black and White

"Staring in awe at a lakeside scene, you are reminded of an Ansel Adams print. It is only when you realise this is actually a bubbling mass of toxic chemicals spewing out of control that you fully grasp Gowin’s ability to create a gut-wrenching tension in his images, of beauty and devastation. . . . Yes—there is an overall sense of sadness about the book, and yet the images are so beautifully compelling that you can’t turn away and ignore them. Changing the earth? Perhaps not—but changing our perception of it? Definitely."—Professional Photographer (UK)

“An exceptional catalogue with excellent reproductions and a superb text written by curator Jock Reynolds."—Jo Ann Lewis, Washington Post

“Gowin’s aerial photographs offer arresting visions of how we’ve changed the Earth for our needs. . . . The images grip with beauty and stun with evidence of injury, like lovely nudes of abuse victims. First the allure, then the recoil, and much later the dawning awareness of complicity.”—Whole Earth

Winner of the 2002 Golden Light Award for Book of the Year (Maine Photographic Workshop)

Won First Place in the 2003 New England Museum Association Publication Design Competition

One of the Best Photography Books of 2002 (photo-eye)