Thursday, January 6, 2011

An Awful Beauty

Smithsonian- Click to enlarge
This month's Smithsonian Magazine has an article titled Devastation from Above featuring pictures of the awful beauty of pollution as seen from the air.

J. Henry Fair is a photographer with a deep environmental commitment. He had worked industrial jobs until he could develop a career in photography.  He has since shot album covers for Yo Yo Ma and Cecilia Bartoli.
Unable to see what was behind the fences at major industrial sites, he chanced to see the effects while on a commercial airline flight.  He then took to the air in small aircraft, photographing sites from 1000 feet.  He is publishing the results of years of work in  The Day after Tomorrow due out this February.
"His goal is not to indict- he doesn't identify the polluters by name - but to raise public awareness about the costs of our choices.  Such advocacy groups as Greenpeace and Rainforest Alliaince have used Fair's work to advance their causes.  He is a real asset to the national environmental movement," says Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who contributed an essay to Fair's book  A Fair photograph, he adds, "takes the viewer in an artistic context, to an intellectual  place that he or she didn't expect to go.  My aluminum foil comes from that?  My electricity comes from that?  My toilet paper comes from that?"
The picture above shows a waste-treatment pond at a Louisiana mill that manufactures paper towels.  The circles form around aerators that churn the water to speed digestion of organic byproducts.

The there is more in the online story from Smithsonian Magazine including an interview and a sampling of his other pictures.

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