German artist Olaf Otto Becker spent six years working on his series Reading the Landscape, from 2008 to 2014. The aim of the project centred around the global deforestation of primaeval forests, reassessing our impact on, and understanding of, nature in the 21st century. Reading the Landscape is a testament to the changing landscapes that suffer from both overpopulation and overconsumption of the earth’s natural resources.
On the project, Becker has said ‘All of us in the west have heard a great deal about the destruction of the primaeval forests, and yet we all remain complicit in it, either directly or indirectly. There is now good reason to believe that this planet is being changed ever more quickly and uncontrollably by human overpopulation, high material expectations, new technological developments, and general opportunism—and that it is a change to the detriment of all life on earth. My photographs from the project Reading the Landscape document the changes to landscape caused by overpopulation and the uncontrolled usage of Earth’s resources. Humans destroy primary forests, which have been growing for millions of years, within decades.’
The series is divided into three sections, Habitat I, II, and III, each presenting nature in three different states: intact, destroyed, and artificial. This presentation focuses on works from Habitat I, capturing the pristine primary forests that still exist in pockets of the world. Becker’s photographs present the landscapes in a state of serene calm. Surrounded by lush foliage, Becker transports the viewer into these vanishing worlds.