Art in the parks
Frenchman and award-winning photographer Philippe Bourseiller explored many of America's famous and lesser known national and state parks for an entire year. The result, America's Parks, is a heady and dramatic volume of his photographs, bookended by a triad of provocative essays (two by fellow countrymen, one by an American), that give both European and American perspectives on the origins, history and development of America's parks, as well as a thought-provoking look at the future of national parks worldwide.
The photography in America's Parks is almost over the top; photographic artistry, in the form of extreme technical manipulation, reigns supreme in this collection. We see mind-blowing sunsets, almost unreal close-ups of flowers in a cracked desert and the minute gradations of feathered texture found in a bird's wing. While Bourseiller's photographs are masterful, they are not fully representative of the parks they are supposed to depict; Niagara Falls is given short shrift, shown in a single photo of powerfully flowing waters, with no background perspective or setting. Bourseiller's work, though beautiful, is somewhat inaccessible: there is no elucidation of his motivation and vision, and his photos are not captioned; the reader must take their location and meaning from an appendix that gives a general description of the park in which they were shot.
Alison Hood was formerly a National Park Service Ranger at Muir Woods and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.