In reaction to a story by NPR’s Planet Money team about the financial collapse and its effect on Southwest Florida housing market, the The Big Picture photography column at Boston.com spent some time scouring Google Earth to document exactly how man-made structures and development planning has altered the land, coast and the way we cover that natural beauty we desire so much.
The resulting pictures show, in stunning simplicity, just how alien the natural landscape of Florida (or most of the Earth for that matter) has become. Ranging from densely-packed communities to barely finishing plotting, the photographs show the natural beauty of the land being lost, and mostly replaced by poorly-planned, short-term solution living situations. They also simultaneously insinuate humanity conquering nature like a plague of locusts, as well as demonstrate our efforts being over-run by nature, like every civilization of the past. (via boston.com)
A curious emptiness permeates the work of painter Chris Ballantyne. Pulling inspiration from the flat, graphic façades of industrial buildings and cookie-cutter suburban streets, Ballantyne merges elements of the banal with the absurd. Upon closer inspection, the vibrant, delicately rendered landscapes reveal strangeness that showcases the artist’s wry, observation-based humor. A giant cavern appears between bright, friendly row houses, surfers ride breakers down a peaceful mountain stream and a tiny footbridge spans a huge geological tear through a grassy plateau—shifting the viewer’s expectation of what “should” appear in the context of each frame.
His subdued, sophisticated color sense marries well with the stark, simplified structures Ballantyne creates. He intentionally omits visual information in the hopes that viewers will instead focus on the subtlety of each scene, their attention swallowed by the strange beauty of each place. The empty, isolated nature of the subject matter also quietly points to our own relationship to space, built structures and contemporary landscape.
I was quite surprised when I found out the work of Canadian artist Ross Racine was completely hand-drawn. While some compositions are more realistic than others, all of them could pass fairly easily as documentary aerial photography of yesteryear, perhaps taken from government planes after the great post-war suburban explosion. Some of his drawings are minimal, some much more complexly textured; all present an interesting fictional view of suburban and rural America.