Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Olaf Otto Becker

 "I use the camera as a tool to understand the world around me...I try to look at something as though my eyes had opened for the first time." 

Olaf Otto Becker's Ice landscapes of Greenland are documents of a quickly changing landscape where the effects of climate change are becoming painfully visible. Becker's dramatic photographs document the pure, unspoiled world of the glaciers. But what isn't so obvious in the photography, is how much is this pristine beauty is changing over time. Each of Becker's most recent images contain precise GPS data: seconds and minute degrees, similar to a scientific experimental set-up. 
"When I am photographing, I am very conscious of what this same view might look like in fifty or one hundred years, even five hundred years," he says. "How will it have changed? Will all the ice and snow be gone?"  During the last few years, the rate of ice loss has increased to 222 cubic kilometres per year from a  previous annual ice loss of just 131 cubic kilometres. Much of this ice was lost during the extremely warm summer of 2007, when over 350 cubic metres of ice melted away in just two months. Becker's decision to include GPS data in the titles was done partly so he could return to the same location in the future, but also "for the future documentarians of global warming." Becker admits that his primary interest is in taking pretty photographs, but he's aware that his work is probably more important as documenting this moment in time.

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