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Book Review – Topographies: Aerial Surveys of the American Landscape by Stephen Shore

Stephen Shore’s latest body of work, Topographies: Aerial Surveys of the American Landscape, takes us on a mesmerizing visual journey through the diverse landscapes of Montana, North Carolina, New York, and beyond. Through a series of aerial photographs captured by drones from 2020 onwards, Shore presents an arresting portrayal of the delicate interplay between nature and human intervention in the American scenery.

All images – Courtesy of the artist and MACK.


Revisiting the original ambitions of the iconic 1975 exhibition ‘New Topographics,’ Shore employs a fresh aerial viewpoint to reexamine the movement’s core concerns: the objective depiction of the commonplace and the dynamic relationship between natural and man-made elements in the American landscape. By doing so, he offers a contemporary perspective on how these themes resonate in the twenty-first century.


Topographies is not merely a formal exploration of the aerial photograph but a tribute to meticulous observation and the element of surprise. Each image captures the minutest details, where the subtlest curve of a river or the gentlest shift of a shadow unravels the rich textures and vibrant colours of America’s urban and suburban environments, all meticulously investigated with Shore’s signature rigour.

The book also includes insightful essays by Noah Chasin and Richard B. Woodward, which add depth and context to Shore’s striking visual narrative. These essays provide an intellectual framework that enhances the reader’s understanding of the photographer’s intent and artistic choices.

Stephen Shore’s mastery as a photographer is evident in every photograph, as he skillfully captures the essence of the American landscape from a vantage point rarely explored before. The use of drone technology offers a fresh perspective, allowing the audience to soar above these landscapes and view them from an almost surreal perspective. Through this unique approach, Shore invites us to see the familiar with new eyes, unveiling hidden patterns and relationships within the landscapes we thought we knew so well.


One of the remarkable aspects of Topographies is its ability to evoke a sense of scale and wonder. The vastness of the American landscape is juxtaposed with intricate patterns and formations that are only visible from an aerial perspective. Shore’s lens takes us on a poetic journey, where the grandeur of nature collides with the orderliness of human interventions, creating a harmonious, yet sometimes dissonant, visual symphony.


Shore’s dedication to capturing the essence of place is evident in each image. From the rugged terrain of Montana to the urban sprawl of New York, he navigates the varying terrains with an unerring eye for composition and aesthetics. His photographs often contain narratives within themselves, telling stories of human interaction with the land, whether through agriculture, architecture, or urban planning.


Furthermore, the book serves as a testament to the evolution of photography as an art form. By employing modern drone technology, Shore showcases the potential of aerial photography to uncover new perspectives and inspire viewers to reevaluate their own surroundings. The images challenge traditional notions of landscape photography, blurring the lines between abstraction and realism, and prompting us to consider the ever-changing relationship between humanity and the environment.


In conclusion, Topographies: Aerial Surveys of the American Landscape is a visual masterpiece that takes the viewer on an extraordinary journey above the vast and diverse American terrain. Stephen Shore’s innovative use of aerial photography not only pays homage to the legacy of the ‘New Topographics’ movement but also pushes the boundaries of contemporary photography. Through his lens, Shore captures the essence of a nation, offering a thought-provoking reflection on the intricate tapestry of natural and man-made elements that shape our landscape. This book is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the power of photography to illuminate and challenge our understanding of the world around us.


ISBN 978-1-913620-89-9
January 2023
€75 £65 $85

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Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website—— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said. Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London. Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art. Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK. She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: [email protected]