Robert AdamsAmerican (Orange, New Jersey, 1937)
On Signal Hill, overlooking Long Beach, California
Concerned with human destruction of the landscape of the American West, Robert Adams has for many decades used his camera to mournfully document what he sees as the fallen state of a former Eden. Of his project he has said, "The operating principle that seems to work best is to go to the landscape that frightens you the most and take pictures until you're not scared anymore."
The Los Angeles basin, perhaps one of the most terrifying landscapes to anyone concerned about environmental degradation, was Adams's focus for several years in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He eventually produced two books on the subject: Los Angeles Spring (1986) and California: Views of the Los Angeles Basin (2000).
In this photograph, two forlorn, scraggly trees overlook a smog-choked landscape of urban sprawl. Perched on the hillside, the neglected trees are poignant reminders of what was once naturally beautiful but now is spoiled.