US artist Emmet Gowin discovered aerial photography after receiving a scholarship from the Seattle Arts Commission in 1980 and consequently being asked to photograph the massive eruption of Mount Saint Helens. Since then, she has been taking black-and-white pictures of the surface of the Earth for over twenty years documenting the landscape of the United States, Mexico, Czechoslovakia, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Gowin’s pictures record the impact of human action on the planet in a subtle yet very impactful way. Her subjects are ammunition storages and disposal facilities, coal mining, pivot irrigation, nuclear test sites and battlefields which from above look like abstract shapes superposed to natural features. The reading of Gowin’s photos requires a double level of attention: while at first they appear as a compelling, almost romanticized, landscapes, at a second look they reveal the traces of man’s exploitation of the planet.
All images © Emmet Gowin