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Oceano (Hardback)

An Elegy for the Earth

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Photography

Imprint: George F. Thompson
Pages: 156
ISBN: 9781938086922
Published: 31st March 2023



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Climate change is the great existential reality of our time. How we approach this crisis will affect life on Earth for present and future generations. In spite of our collective ideals, irreversible damage to the environment is imminent and represents urgent local and global concern. Through artfully rendered photographs of an acutely endangered landscape, Oceano: An Elegy for the Earth explores the deep paradox between the devout, powerful presence of nature and environmental loss and damage.

Extending eighteen miles along Central California’s famed coastline and divided into both a natural preserve and a state vehicular recreation area, the Oceano Dune complex has long fascinated photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward and Brett Weston. The ephemeral, ever-changing landscape here expresses a sublime order and reflects many correlations between land and the dynamics of human society. Using metaphors that inspire hope and explore impermanence and darkness contrasted with the purity of suffusing light, Ulrich’s photographs have been likened to Mark Rothko’s “silence and solitude” that express the resonance and subtle dimensions of consciousness.

The coastal environment of the Oceano Dunes is tempered by multiple threats such as incessant motorized activity, the toxicity of surrounding industrial-scale agriculture, and some of the worst air quality in the nation. Thus, for the book’s sequence of images, the photographer employs the literary form of an elegy, an extended reflection and lamentation on Earth during the early twenty-first century. An elegy refers to a poetic reflection of sorrow and love, often for a transient, mortal entity. As Ulrich writes: “Sorrow and love for Earth, indeed. No better articulation exists for my regard for our dying planet and common mother.”

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