Landscapes of the Late Anthropocene
By Philip Zimmermann
Tucson, Arizona: Spaceheater Editions, 2017. Edition of 50.
4.5 x 5.5"; Text block printed by offset at the Center for Book and Paper at Columbia College Chicago on their Heidelberg GTO. Printed done by Brad Freeman and his Columbia College Book & Paper graduate students. Bound in hard cover boards with end sheet pastedown. Covers and end sheets printed by Philip Zimmermann using pigmented archival inkjet. Foil-stamped on the cover and blind embossed title on the spine. Includes information pamphlet of 8 pages. Book signed, numbered and dated by the artist.
Zimmermann combined three different interests to make a compelling book about climate change – the rising sea levels, airport control towers, and language.
Phil Zimmermann: "Due to a general public concern about climate change, most people have become aware of the term 'anthropocene.' It’s a word relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. For the last two years I have been thinking about a way to make a new artists’ book related to the issues that prompted that term 'anthropocene.'
"When I thought of a sea level rise of two hundred feet and what that could mean in terms of our cities and our society, the future seemed incredibly bleak. For the landscapes in the book, I decided to create a dystopian set of images that hinted at a future watery world, one where the remnants of civilizations lived in armed and guarded towers, growing their food in vertical farms inside these towers. The rest of the world population would have mostly died off. Marauding remnants exist in small groups that would try to gain entrance into these armed tower structures. The backgrounds of these images were built using scans of steel engravings from several 19th century books. I used photos of water and waves to make the foregrounds. … The goal was to create a series of images of a forbidding and lonely watery world, one that was austerely beautiful but scary and thought-provoking
"About two years ago I read an online article by Sarah Zhang, entitled 'The "Harvard Sentences" Secretly Shaped the Development of Audio Tech.' The article was about a fascinating subject, the creation of a series of text lines that were used to test the fidelity of spoken words when broadcast over military and civilian radio transmitters. What ended up being 720 lines of text started as a series of short sentences that were meant to test the accuracy of military communication systems towards the end of the Second World War. … What I found especially interesting about these 720 sentences –72 lists of ten sentences each– is that they are mysteriously poetic and timeless. But they can also be thought of as metaphor for determining (or not) meaning from the static, transmitted signal from noise. We, as the populations and governments of planet earth, certainly have not yet registered the dire warning message of global warming.
"For the duotone pages I used two sets of images. For the blue background, I used Google earth satellite views of water and shorelines, printed in that deep blue Pantone color. NOAA images of maritime depth charts were used for the silver depth numbers and contour lines. Editing and selecting the Harvard Sentences was a great deal of fun. There were so many that I felt had poetic resonance with the subject matter, starting with the initial text line, 'There is a lag between thought and action' which seemed the perfect way of describing where we as earthlings are in regards to climate change."