What might the Earth’s landscape look like were people to vanish? Pablo Lerma explores this question in his book A Place to Disappear, recently published by +Kris Graves Projects. Drawing on a wide range of artistic, scientific and literary influences, from the Geologic Time Scale to Milton’s Paradise Lost to 18th century landscape paintings, Lerma set out to photograph “traces of utopian landscapes in transformation and extinction,” places where the natural world bares no evidence of human beings, and thrives and changes according to natural cycles. In the book, he combines his color landscape images with vernacular, black-and-white photographs made in the same locations by 19th century explorers. The project imagines “a future in which humans will disappear from this planet but come back to Earth centuries later,” Lerma has said.
The images in the book depict rock formations and oceans; waterfalls and geysers; glaciers and icebergs; cracked, drought-ridden earth; and damp, moss-covered boulder fields.
The archival images, which offer a glimpse of what travelers found in remote, unspoiled locations, come from the collections of The New York Public Library and Cornell University. By examining them alongside Lerma’s work, we recognize changes to the landscape and begin to imagine how Earth might look if we left it alone for a while.