Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Small man, big landscape

The three extras inside the back cover.

The hand of man on the landscape.
Look through the sixty-five, mostly landscape, photos here and you could get the impression that so much of the land hasn't been touched by man, least in the mid-west and west.  Sambunaris has managed to show huge, wonderful panoramas of countryside and if you look carefully you'll spot some human activity: highways; trucks; railroads (several) mining; pipelines; crop circles and more but the human side of things in so many of these images seems quite insignificant.

There's a shot of the Bingham Copper Mine, one of the deepest open-pit mines anywhere (three miles across and well over half a mile deep) with the mining equipment hardly visible.  Actually if you look at an aerial shot of the mine it looks a lot smaller in area than the nearby Utah Lake.  Many of her photos are taken from a vantage point looking down on a rather barren landscape, either with a mountain range in the far distance but maybe basically flatland stretching to the ranges.  Mixed in with these extremely long shots are several, almost close-ups, of shipping containers or freight cars.  a rather odd mix you might think but that's what makes the book rather fascinating.

The folks at Radius Books like to go the extra mile for their book buyers and this title is a good example of this.  The photos are one to a page (except for three spreads) with generous margins, printed with a 175 screen on a reasonable matt art paper.  Inside the back cover is a pocket with three extras: a twelve page essay by Barry Lopez;  a five page concertina fold-out with 125 thumbnails of photos Sambunaris took on her travels showing a lot more human activity than the images in the book; a large sixty-six page book, with photos of ephemera she has collected over the years, like rocks, books, journals.

Taxonomy of a landscape delivers an impressive photographic package into your hands.

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