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The New YorkerIn the forthcoming photographic anthology Oceans, edited by Sue Hostetler, actor and environmentalist Robert Redford writes about the sea as "a complex natural wilderness" and Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques) describes the Earth's oceans as "the big story in this solar system." But more than words or advocacy, the big story in "Oceans" is photography's ongoing, and wonderfully quixotic, attempts to fix the sea in its lens. Amid the crashing foam, delicate horizon lines, and international cast of beachcombers depicted here, unforgettable images emerge: Lynn Davis's Greenland icebergs, rising out of the desolate North Atlantic like a giant marble statuary; Rineke Dijkstra's seaside portrait of an iconically awkward teen-ager; Jock Sturges's luminous study of three nudes on an immense, mirrorlike French beach; and Hiroshi Sugimoto's enigmatic Aegean seascape, in which a feathery crosshatch of waves dissolves into unknowable mist.
If "Oceans" is something of a greatest-hits collection, Philip Plisson's The Sea (forthcoming from Abrams) is an extended tone poem. This brimming monograph includes four hundred of the French marine photographer's evocative color images of churning seas and storm-battered islands. While most photographers concern themselves with the sea's hypnotic surface, the American underwater photographer David Doubilet dives right in. In Great Barrier Reef (National Geographic), a study of the Australian wonder first discovered by Captain Cook, Doubilet's camera truly reveals another world of Dr. Seussian spine-cheek clown fish, manta rays on the wing, and kaleidoscopic coral in mid-spawn—an event that Doubilet celebrates as "the most spectacular sex act on the planet." (Mark Rozzo)