Except, as much as this sounds like the Best Party Concept Ever to a confirmed introvert such as myself, I'm afraid it might leave something a little lacking for those among our friends who like to actually interact socially at parties.
So, instead of actually hosting an old-fashioned "bricks and morter"* party, I'm moving the Coffee Table Book Party onto the World Wide Web*! Over the next several months, you'll be seeing some of my favorite coffee table books, with a few amateurish but enticing photographs of their contents along with a brief review. If you have a favorite coffee table book of your own that you would like to share, send in pictures and a quick writeup. It'll be a party!
Alex S. Maclean, Designs on the Land; Exploring America from the Air. Thames & Hudson, 2003.
There are plenty of coffee table books out there that compile beautiful aerial photography. This one may well be the best of them all. Its focus is not conventionally beautiful landmarks and scenery, but the patterns imposed on the ordinary landscapes of the United States by our very way of life.
From a variety of heights and angles, Maclean's photographs reveal the often stark geometries of our cities, neighborhoods, and countryside. Patterns are revealed that derive from the deliniation of space into functional zones, from its devision by transportation corridors or property lines, or from the repetition of landscape forms.
The double-meaning contained in the title is no mistake. Maclean's images are strangely beautiful, but they contain an implicit critique of the mechanized nature of modern life. This is not without its snobbish overtones -- the snobbery of the person who looks at a busy street full of people conducting their daily business and, viewing them in the aggregate, regards them as an unthinking mass of lemmings -- but it is not without its validity either. Sometimes it's kind of alarming to see what we look like from a distance.
As of tonight, there are used copies on Amazon for as little as $11.90. Or check your library!
*Remember the late 90s?