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Approaching Nowhere: Photographs [Hardcover]

Jeff Brouws
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 42.00
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Book Description

15 Aug 2006
Like many Americans who grew up during the spread of sprawl - with its predictable landscape of housing developments, shopping malls, interstate highways and big-box construction - acclaimed photographer Jeff Brouws is drawn to places that still embody the vernacular past as well as to those that starkly portray the soulless, franchised American landscape. This collection of evocative images of buildings and places seen from the American road began as a cultural geography of Main Streets and became a visual critique of the myth of upward mobility that created this car-centred, paved-over universe. Some images look outward to the edges of suburbia where sprawl is encroaching upon nature. Others turn inward, documenting the devastated inner cities. All of them reflect the complex beauty and desolation of visual life in America today.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (15 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393062740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393062748
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 29.4 x 31 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 885,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

JEFF BROUWS is the photographer of Highway and Readymades, and recently edited A Passion for Trains: The Railroad World of Richard Steinheimer (ISBN 978 0 393 05743 0). Author Web site: www.jeffbrouws.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars United TOADS* of America 28 Sep 2007
By Robin Benson TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
They're everywhere and so like the title of this book: nowhere. Wherever the tarmac leads signs of commercial chaos and eventually abandonment will probably appear. In theory nothing wrong with that, businesses come and go but it seems unique to America that a gone business is remarkably reluctant to clean up after itself. The detritus of commerce just litters the landscape and a fortunate by-product of this mess, over recent years, is an increasing visual record created by a small band of brilliant topographic photographers.

Jeff Brouws has spent some years casting his creative eye over urban sprawl, interstate commercial failure and inner city decay. This latest book captures all this so well in these ninety-eight photos. The first thing you'll notice about the book (perhaps portfolio is a better word) is the size, an impressive 12.25 inches deep by 11.5 wide which gives the images the sort of display they deserve, helped also by the excellent layout and 175dpi printing. Divided into three photographic sections: Highway Landscape, Discarded Landscape and Impossibility of Ruins, this last section has nineteen remarkable shots of rust-belt inner city decay. Because of the vastness of this city blight there is more chance that the authorities will do something about it while the single abandoned highway gas station will stay just that--abandoned.

The Highway Landscape has the most photos and it is here that frequently a shot will jump off the page, it just seems so right. Page sixty-one has a beautiful night image of the Sands Restaurant in Fresno, a neon sign and other lettering perfectly framed within the image area or the gas station ruins in Vidal Junction, CA, nicely composed into thirds, sky, buildings and an earth foreground.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent study 1 Oct 2008
Format:Hardcover
I agree with the above review. This provides a moving study of an American landscape abandoned by business and seemingly empty.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent collection of photos - printing quality very good - fascinating text.
Bought for my son who is keen urban landscape photographer. For him this is the perfect inspiration.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars United TOADs of America* 27 Nov 2006
By Robin Benson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
They're everywhere and so like the title of this book: nowhere. Wherever the tarmac leads signs of commercial chaos and eventually abandonment will probably appear. In theory nothing wrong with that, businesses come and go but it seems unique to America that a gone business is remarkably reluctant to clean up after itself. The detritus of commerce just litters the landscape and a fortunate by-product of this mess, over recent years, is an increasing visual record created by a small band of brilliant topographic photographers.

Jeff Brouws has spent some years casting his creative eye over urban sprawl, interstate commercial failure and inner city decay. This latest book captures all this so well in these ninety-eight photos. The first thing you'll notice about the book (perhaps portfolio is a better word) is the size, an impressive 12.25 inches deep by 11.5 wide which gives the images the sort of display they deserve, helped also by the excellent layout and 175dpi printing. Divided into three photographic sections: Highway Landscape, Discarded Landscape and Impossibility of Ruins, this last section has nineteen remarkable shots of rust-belt inner city decay. Because of the vastness of this city blight there is more chance that the authorities will do something about it while the single abandoned highway gas station will stay just that--abandoned.

The Highway Landscape has the most photos and it is here that frequently a shot will jump off the page, it just seems so right. Page sixty-one has a beautiful night image of the Sands Restaurant in Fresno, a neon sign and other lettering perfectly framed within the image area or the gas station ruins in Vidal Junction, CA, nicely composed into thirds, sky, buildings and an earth foreground. Brouws, like photographers from the Farm Security Administration onwards, has a sharp eye for signage, either neon or painted on exterior walls, most of the photos in the book have a bit of lettering somewhere.

Approaching Nowhere seems a continuation of his two earlier books, 'Highway: America's Endless Dream' 1997 (ISBN 1556706049) which has a few of the same photos and 'Readymades' 2003 (ISBN 0811836770) a remarkable book of several hundred photos of what can be seen from the Nation's roads. All three books capture the contemporary texture of the outside 'nowhere' beautifully.

*Temporary/Obsolete/Abandoned/Derelict
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A significant contribution to contemporary landscape photography 4 April 2008
By Pen Name - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you collect art books about the contemporary landscape, this is one you should have. It's Brouws' sixth book, and is an ideal summation of his very productive career so far.

Brouws' work defines the term "landscape" as do the great cultural geographers, such as J.B. Jackson: It's a terrain that acts upon and is acted upon by its human inhabitants. There are few things more confounding, yet fascinating, than the behavior of other humans. We persist in the same habits and choices, despite frequently catastrophic results. Approaching Nowhere illuminates these foibles by studying their consequences through superb photography.

While Brouws' edifying eye for this world is sharply focused on the often sad reality of uncivilized sprawl, I find no stridence or intemperate cynicism in his attitude. Instead, I see the investigative sensibility of an earnest anthropologist, combined with the creative eloquence of a very talented artist.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new masterpiece 4 April 2008
By Jose Maria - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've been deeply touched by this book. Jeff Brows is a master creating moments and places.

I'm writting this review after two previous one which describes perfectly what this incredible book is, so I won't repeat it.

I just can say that I'd file this book under "poetry".

Greetings from Barcelona
5.0 out of 5 stars Americana at it's strangest 2 July 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book has amazing pictures of long lost forgotten American landscapes. It always makes me feel like I should pack my car, drive through Arizona and New Mexico, and rediscover the western desert. The pictures are really amazing though, and it definitely is somewhat of a social commentary on the consumption of America.
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