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James Balog Captures the Horrific Beauty and Destruction of Environmental Disasters
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James Balog Captures the Horrific Beauty and Destruction of Environmental Disasters

James Balog: Photography the AnthropoceneAt the National Academy of Sciences

James Balog, a photographer who has documented global environmental degradation since 1980s, has been documenting it. An extensive exhibit at the National Academy of Sciences. Photographs of the Anthropocene, showcases some three dozen of Balogs photographsbeautiful, ugly, and sometimes both. (Anthropocene is a proposed label to describe our current epoch in which humans have driven environmental changes. The exhibit shows disasters in abundance, clearly and with no expense spared. Many images document fire, including one of a controlled burning in Canada that sent ashes flying amid bright orange flames and another of yellow-and-red school bus lights that were melted by wildfire. This transformed them into something resembling cheeseburgers topped with ketchup. Balog also took photographs of threatened animals, including a giant panda, seated in an auditorium with ornate architecture, and a garbo-esque chimpanzee. His most notable work is about ice, or more specifically, its slow disappearance. One image shows a glowing, glowing blue orb that has emerged from a melting glacier in a lunar-like setting. Another, a close-up of ancient air pockets in Greenland Ice, looks positively cartoony with a riotous display of blue, white and black circles. Balog’s passion for ice led to the Extreme Ice Survey, which uses cameras and monitors the retreating glaciers around the globe. Balog is not only a passive observer but also a contributor to science through the collection of more than 1.4million frames of evidence. James Balog: Photography on the AnthropoceneIt will be on display at the National Academy of Sciences West Gallery (2101 Constitution Ave. NW) through May 2. Free. No need to show proof of masks or vax.

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