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The Day After Tomorrow: Our Aerial Future

What Spanish ponds have to do with Canadian tissues and Georgia O’Keefe.

We love aerial photography — there’s something about a bird’s-eye view that puts this Earth, and our place in it, in perspective. Nowhere is this more poignant and gripping than when it opens our eyes to the concrete scale and magnitude of something we hold as abstract guilt in our collective conscience: The environmental impact of human activity and consumer culture. That’s precisely what photographer J. Henry Fair explores in his compelling new book, The Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our Earth in Crisis — a rousing invitation to bear witness to the environmental devastation we continue to inflict on our own home, and a visceral call to arms to take responsibility and change our ways.

Fair does a remarkable job of reconciling the book’s powerful artistic vision with the near-investigative feel of the work as it turns a lens on the industries most vital to post-industrial society — oil, fertilizer, coal, factory farming — and unearths their dirty not-so-little secrets.

It is first and foremost an art book, the pictures compelling in the manner of painters like O’Keefe, Giacometti, and Caspar David Friedrich. But it’s also a book about the power that the consumer has to shape the world through the purchase decisions she makes.” ~ J. Henry Fair

Crime and Punishment, Gulf of Mexico, 2010 | Oil from BP Deepwater Horizon spill on the Gulf of Mexico | Courtesy of J Henry Fair/Gerald Peters Gallery
Herbicide, Luling, LA, 2010 | Herbicide manufacturing plant | Courtesy of J Henry Fair/Gerald Peters Gallery
Crucible, Convent, LA, 2005 | Heavy metal waste, resulting from fertilizer production | Courtesy of J Henry Fair/Gerald Peters Gallery
Lightning Rods, Fort McMurrary, Alberta, Canada, 2009 | The inside of a holding tank at an oil sands upgrader facility | Courtesy of J Henry Fair/Gerald Peters Gallery
Dendrite, Rio Tinto, Spain, 2008 | Run-off pond at Rio Tinto mine | Courtesy of J Henry Fair/Gerald Peters Gallery
Gangrene, Luling, LA, 2010 | Herbicide manufacturing plant | Courtesy of J Henry Fair/Gerald Peters Gallery
Facial Tissues, Terrace Bay, Ontario, Canada, 2005 | Paper pulp waste, resulting from facial tissue manufacture | Courtesy of J Henry Fair/Gerald Peters Gallery
Bottom Ash, New Roads, LA, 2010 | Bottom ash disposal pond at coal-fired power plant | Courtesy of J Henry Fair/Gerald Peters Gallery
Phospho-Gypsum, Geismar, LA, 2005 | Phospho-gypsum waste at a fertilizer manufacturing plant | Courtesy of J Henry Fair/Gerald Peters Gallery

Images via Flavorpill

As an artist with a message, one asks oneself: how do I translate my message to my medium such that it will effect the change I want? At first, I photographed ‘ugly’ things; which is, in essence, throwing the issue in people’s faces. Over time, I began to photograph all these things with an eye to making them both beautiful and frightening simultaneously, a seemingly irreconcilable mission, but actually quite achievable given the subject matter.” ~ J. Henry Fair

Provocative and breathtaking, The Day After Tomorrow is out today and won’t disappoint.


Published February 15, 2011

https://www.brainpickings.org/2011/02/15/the-day-after-tomorrow/

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