Oceano: An Elegy for the Earth

Oceano: An Elegy for the Earth

Oceano: An Elegy for the Earth

Oceano: An Elegy for the Earth


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A masterful series of photographs highlight the fragile beauty of a highly threatened landscape: the Oceano Dunes on the Central California Coast.

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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781938086922
Publisher: George F Thompson Publishing
Publication date: 06/30/2023
Pages: 156
Product dimensions: 9.70(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

David Ulrich is an active photographer and writer whose work has been published in numerous books and journals, including Aperture, MANOA, Parabola, and Sierra Club publications. Ulrich’s photographs have been exhibited internationally in more than seventy-five one-person and group exhibitions in museums, galleries, and universities. He is currently a professor and co-director of Pacific New Media Foundation in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Previously, he taught for Pacific New Media, University of Hawai‘i Mānoa, was Professor and Chair of the Art Department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, and for fifteen years served as Associate Professor and Chair of the Photography Department of the Art Institute of Boston (now Lesley University College of Art and Design). Ulrich is the author of Zen Camera: Creative Awakening with a Daily Practice in Photography (Watson Guptill/Random House, 2018), The Mindful Photographer: Awake in the World with a Camera (Rocky Nook Press, 2022), and The Widening Stream: The Seven Stages of Creativity (Atria Books/Beyond Words, 2002) and the co-author of Through Our Eyes: A Photographic View of Hong Kong by its Youth (The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, 2006).
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