Friday, June 20, 2008

A Corrosive Study

Time Passes

by Robert Adams
Thames & Hudson (April 2008)
100 pages/hardcover/32 tritone photographs/$40.00

Reviewed by Jain Lemos

Robert Adams, master of recording transforming topography, releases Time Passes this year in conjunction with his recent Paris exhibition, On the Edge. Most of the book’s 32 plates show extending seascapes conveying Adams’ meditation on what he terms transience. His endless hours watching the Northern Pacific tides, catching dancing light and rolling liquid, have produced straightforward and submersing stills.

At the first tossing of pages, many frames appear to be taken seconds apart and nearly identical. But returning and pausing—as though on a daily outing to the shore—each capture emerges as vastly unique. In one, there is a sense of drowning. In the next, a distant breaker brings promise. On another, an unexplainable yearning sets in, as though the ocean will deliver a long awaited answer. Maximizing the inadequate medium of a camera in his hands, he delivers a bystander view of the immeasurable.

Clearly the images in Time Passes are meant for museum and personal viewing in large format. Even then, matting and framing confine what we know Adams sees. And though the book is well crafted, in print form the restrictive knot is tied even tighter. Yet Adams once again proves his excellence. No matter the method provided for ingesting these impressions, their intimate impact and narrative significance about our changing landscape is engulfing.

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