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Modern-Day Arks

All life depends on plants, but we often take them for granted in our everyday lives. It is easy to ignore the fact that we are facing a crisis: scientists estimate that one third of all flowering plant species are threatened with extinction. This lavishly illustrated volume considers the essential conservation role of botanic gardens, telling the story of how a global network is working to save our botanical heritage.

"Our job is to tell stories we have heard and to bear witness to what we have seen. The science was already there when we started in 2004, but we wanted to emphasize the human dimension, especially for those most vulnerable."
—Guy-Pierre Chomette, Collectif Argos

The Metamorphosis of Plants, published in 1790, was Goethe’s first major attempt to describe what he called in a letter to a friend “the truth about the how of the organism.” Inspired by the diversity of flora he found on a journey to Italy, Goethe sought a unity of form in diverse structures. He came to see in the leaf the germ of a plant’s metamorphosis--“the true Proteus who can hide or reveal himself in all vegetal forms”—from the root and stem leaves to the calyx and corolla, to pistil and stamens.

Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals

For more than half the nation’s history, vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948, they housed more than a half million patients. The blueprint for these hospitals was set by Pennsylvania hospital superintendant Thomas Story Kirkbride: a central administration building flanked symmetrically by pavilions and surrounded by lavish grounds with pastoral vistas.

La Jetée

Chris Marker’s legendary “ciné roman” (“film novel”) La Jetée is considered one of the greatest and most influential experimental films of all time. This short film--a postapocalyptic story composed almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs—has been praised by cultural theorists and Netflix subscribers alike.

From Alberti to Microsoft

As we spend more and more of our time staring at the screens of movies, televisions, computers, and handheld devices—"windows" full of moving images, texts, and icons—how the world is framed has become as important as what is in the frame. In The Virtual Window, Anne Friedberg examines the window as metaphor, as architectural component, and as an opening to the dematerialized reality we see on the screen.

Milk and Melancholy looks at milk through the lens of photography and from the angle of art. Specifically, it considers the milk splash in all its manifestations, representations, and variations, tracing the complex flow of the image in works ranging from Harold Edgerton's milk drop coronet to Jeff Wall's exploding milk carton.

The Wildlife and Landscapes of Costa Rica

The small Central American country of Costa Rica--less than one-eighth the size of California--boasts the highest density of plant and animal species in the world. Its wild and rugged landscapes include dense rainforests where jaguars roam, a volcano that spews rivers of molten lava, and beaches as unspoiled as they were when Christopher Columbus first anchored his ships off the Caribbean coast in 1502.


"This book version of La Jetée is, to my mind, astonishingly beautiful. It brings a total freshness to the work and a new way to use photos to deal with dramatic events. Not a film's book, but a book in its own right—the real ciné-roman announced in the film's credits."
Chris Marker

Scenes from Alfred Stieglitz's New York Secession

In An American Lens, Jay Bochner looks at a series of milestones in the development of the American avant-garde that capture a pivotal period in artistic consciousness. He focuses on the multiple roles of Alfred Stieglitz—as influential gallery owner, photographer, and impresario of the emerging art scene—at a series of significant moments in his career. These close-ups offer a more intense and expanded understanding of the subject than the familiar long view.

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