Image of Entropy
Release Date: 
May 8, 2024
The Monacelli Press
Reviewed by: 

“one of the most captivating books on the market linking fine art with climate change.”

Climate change is one of a handful of hot-button topics that every cultural organization and artist is currently trying to attempt to incorporate into their work. Most of these results are ham-fisted—obtuse, tenuous links between a project and the bigger picture or something that feels so box-checky as to be rendered inert. Entropy is one of the exceptions to this trend.

Beautifully bound and vibrantly printed, this slender coffee table book beguiles the viewer from the cover alone—a wash of sunset pastels broken apart by a slash of road that skirts the line between abstract art and nature photography. What follows are deliciously beautiful, highly textured images akin to a more feminine take on Edward Burtynsky. Never has a shoreline looked so tender, a salt field so elegant.

Diane Tuft introduces her books—the fourth in a series of monographs showcasing evidence of climate change on nature—by explaining why she was drawn to water, the most versatile and impactful element on earth. Part simple scientific treatise, part artistic manifesto, these six pages set the stage for the “why” behind these images. Unlike her previous project that focused on documenting the Arctic, this tome zooms in on locations closer to mankind’s home—from Bangladesh to the Florida Keys. She details how she chose the various locations, noting how each place is impacted by rising sea levels, increasingly destructive storm patterns, pollution, and relentless drought. This is an artist who has done her homework and knows how to share daunting statistics in a sharp, digestible way. She is neither preachy nor doomsaying, inviting the reader to join her in this exploration and appreciate the gravity of what is happening to the planet.

In an early, brief essay by Dr. Stacey Epstein, Tuft’s work is grounded in the American artistic tradition of the Hudson River School and others concerned with man’s imprint on the natural world. Visual examples are provided, linking her, quite appropriately, with the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe or Mark Rothko. And these references are far from forced—her photographs are unbelievably beautiful, capturing colors one might not believe even exist in nature with an eye that frames the world as both a vast color field and a dreamy microcosm on a glass slide. The viewer will find themselves questioning what they are even looking at, alien landscapes that are really just outside our door.

Perhaps the only unsuccessful moments in the book are a few scattered haikus by the artist. They are perfectly fine poems, but their presence can push the volume into more of a new-agey, live, laugh, love genre that takes away from both the beauty and the seriousness of the rest of the work.

Overall, though, it is one of the most captivating books on the market linking fine art with climate change. The viewer can easily just enjoy it for its fantastic photography; it is literally one of the few books in the category where every image is a ten out of ten. For those interested in a more nuanced understanding of the work, the accompanying text manages to provide actual scientific analysis in an enjoyable, accessible format.