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Cook and Jenshel, wife and husband, work together on large projects, she in black and white, he in color. Turning to water after a project about volcanoes, they settled on two approaches, one concerned with ice, the other with immense aquariums--hence, one with pure nature, the other with nature humanly constrained. Their aquarium pictures are gorgeous, thoughtful, and provocative. At first the black-and-whites seem more artificial and abstract, especially in the subtly turbulent image of a tiger plunging after a pumpkin, which is virtually impossible to decipher without a written explanation. But it is almost as hard to "decode" the adjacent color image of a spotlighted shark lunging toward the viewer. Other color pictures are forthrightly painterly: illuminist (a redheaded woman watches identically red jellyfish), magical realist (a baby and a turtle in a seeming face-off), and, of course, surrealist (the giant fish-nose "invading" a sunken classical Greek city). Biologist Todd Newberry's essay and the interview-afterword raise piquant questions about the aquarium experience for inhabitants as well as spectators. Ray Olson
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About the Author
Diane Cook and Len Jenshel are among America's foremost landscape photographers. Their book, Hot Spots, about volcanoes won the Golden Light Award for best landscape photography in 1996 and was among American Photographer magazine's "Best Photo Books of the Year."
Why do a million people a year visit the tiny seacoast town of Newport, Oregon, whose population is only 8,400? It isn't the beautiful beaches or the quaint fishing harbor, it's the Oregon Coast Aquarium. In cities large and small around the world, recent innovations in aquarium design have transformed what were once damp, stodgy science displays into lively and exciting introductions to the fascinating undersea world.
Attracted by the new spectacles offered to aquarium visitors, Diane Cook and Len Jenshel have traveled around the world photographing these dramatic environments and their enthralled audiences. Fifteen aquariums in North America, five in Europe, five in the Caribbean (including three in Cuba), and three in Japan are included.
Seventy photographs, half in color and half in black-and-white, are accompanied by an interview with the photographers by Lawrence Wechsler, the much-honored New Yorker writer.