Introducing EarthArt

Editor Alex Stetter previews our forthcoming book with the acclaimed aerial photographer Bernhard Edmaier
EarthArt by Bernhard Edmaier
EarthArt by Bernhard Edmaier


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For the past few decades, geologist-turned-photographer Bernhard Edmaier has been pairing his knowledge of rocks and climate with his gimlet eye for an arresting landscape, to produce perhaps the greatest body of aerial photography the world has ever seen. Despite their artistic merit, his shots have tended to have been organised around their geological or geographical features. Now, the raw pigments of Edmaier's shots have been ordered by Phaidon in a new book called EarthArt.

Divided into colour-themed chapters – blue, green, yellow, white etc. – this book offers an incredibly dynamic view of our planet, from the Siberian permafrost to the Bahamas seas, by way of glaciers, mountains, forests and rivers. In letting the colours, rather than the content, organise EarthArt, the book's editor, Alex Stetter, believes Phaidon has allowed the quality of Edmaier's archive to shine through. Read on to hear Alex explain how Edmaier shot these incredible, breathtaking images, where his ecological sympathies lie, and why a picture of a Siberian permafrost is a good way to 'put a face to a name.'

Bernhard Edmaier studied geology before switching to photography. Does he approach image making with a geologist's eye, or a photographer's?

An incredible mix of both. Unlike most of us, he knows where spectacular geography lies. When he's out flying to shoot images, he understands which countries are worth visiting, and when. I wouldn't know what to expect on the border where Bolivia meets Chile. Yet Bernhard knows that what you see are fantastically multicoloured mountains and lakes that look as if someone has dropped a bucket of paint into the desert. He knows how to find those places, and then isn't scared of getting into a very small plane and photographing them.

 

Waiotapu, New Zealand

Waiotapu, New Zealand


How did this book come about?

We wanted to try something different. We had done a number of books with Bernhard Edmaier before (Earthsong, 2004; Patterns of the Earth, 2007; and Earth on Fire, 2009), which had all be really well received, but all had clear themes – like, say, volcanoes. This one was purely about colour. We went through Edmaier's archive and picked out the most striking examples of the colour spectrum.

 

Cerros de Visviri, Andes, Chile

Cerros de Visviri, Andes, Chile

And did this turn out to be a good way to organise shots?

Yes, brilliant. You look parts of the world in a different way. The sea can be blue, yet it can be red, or green, or orange, depending on what's in it. And just as not all water is blue, so the yellow chapter contains sand, and natural sulphur deposits, or mountains that are weathering in unexpected ways. The photographs are the real stars here. You can appreciate them without knowing necessarily when and where they were taken.

 

Berzeliusbjerg, East Greenland

Berzeliusbjerg, East Greenland

The pictures bring ecological considerations to mind. Where do Edmaier's sympathies lie?

He prefers to photograph areas untouched by man. As soon as people start moving into a place, they change it. In capturing things now, its like a warning – these are delicate landscapes  - they're free from man's interference, for now. If you look carefully in some shots, you might be able to see tiny boat.

 

Laguna Roja, Chile

Laguna Roja, Chile

Who does this book appeal to?

To expert and amateur photographers but also anyone with a love the planet. Some landscapes are just so removed from the common, urban experience, it just doesn't matter that they may be hard to recognise on the page. It really is awe inspiring, because there's this particularly beautiful shot of something you might have known existed, but you never thought was quite so beautiful.

Which places were, for you, the most astonishingly beautiful?

Areas of permafrost up in Siberia. You'd assume that they would be quite grim, but they actually look like embroidery on a quilt: you've got these little pools in the frost, and these yellow and green dots in the landscape they are absolutely gorgeous. I never thought that Siberia would look like that, and it only looks like that for a few weeks in a year, when the ice melts and plants grow really quickly. It's like putting a face to a name. Oh, Siberia? So there you are. Who knew?

 

Lena Delta, Siberia

Lena Delta, Siberia


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EARTHART
EarthArt is a spectacular collection of breathtaking aerial photographs of the Earth’s surface – from the Bahamas to Iceland, New Zealand to North America and Europe to Alaska – ordered by colour to display the stunning variety of the colours of the Earth. Divided into colour-coded chapters (blue, green, yellow, orange, red, violet, brown, grey/black and white), EarthArt offers an astounding and rarely seen view of the world’s surface. The images are presented on a black background for maximum effect but in the jewel-bright pages of this book, the colour wheel comes to life.
   
 
 
THE CREATION OF THE BOOK

Phaidon's production controller Adela Cory oversaw the making of EarthArt with no small amount of assistance from Edmaier himself.

"The biggest challenge with this book was ensuring that the printed pages matched up to the amazing photographs. The book is themed around its colours, and so we wanted vivid pigments, but we didn't want to saturate the pages so that the detail was lost. Fortunately, Edmaier supplied us with both digital files and his own reference prints of the photographs, so we knew exactly what he wanted. We used an Italian printing firm that makes incredibly high-quality photo books to produce this title. It was a challenging job, as each photograph is set within a black border, and there is unusually high ink coverage. To obtain the best possible result we used a special high-density black ink and applied a gloss varnish overall to seal the page and give it a beautiful finish. We have a good working relationship with Bernhard Edmaier, which made the title a little easier. He even went to the printers himself to pass the book's production and was fascinated by the process. It's nice to have an artist so heavily involved with the production process. In this instance, I think it really paid off."
 
   
 
SPECIFICATIONS
Hardback | 350 x 297 mm
224 pages | 160 images | 2.53 kg
   
 
 
 
WHO IS BERNHARD EDMAIER?
Bernhard Edmaier was born in 1957 near Munich, Germany, and went on to study civil engineering, before switching to geography. He later trained as a photographer, and has subsequently combined his photographic skills with his passion for natural landscape, capturing exceptional areas of the earth with an incredibly high degree of skill and artistry. He has published four books with Phaidon: Earthsong (2004), Earth on Fire (2009), Patterns of the Earth (2007) and EarthArt (October 2013). Edmaier has also won many awards, including The Most Beautiful German Science Book of the Year, the Kodak Photo Book Prize and a Hasselblad Master Award. He founded his own photo agency, Geophot, over two decades ago, and continues to shoot and exhibit around the world.
Couple EarthArt with the books below to build a library that reflects the world around us
 
 
SOME EARTHART LINKS
 

Bernhard Edmaier: EarthArt

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ABOUT PHAIDON

Phaidon is the world’s premier publisher of books on the visual arts. We believe passionately in the creative act and aim to make it exciting and understandable by all and to celebrate its greatness in everything we produce. We have published books with some of the most creative artists, architects, designers, photographers and chefs of the 20th and 21st centuries. We work collaboratively with the creative arts world’s most inspiring names to achieve the most faithful representation of, and the truest insight into, the way those artists and visionaries interact with the world around them – whatever medium they work in.

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