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June 20, 2010

Gulf Update: Oil Paintings

Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

It’s fascinating to watch the themes come and go in the photo coverage of the oil blowout.

If AP’s Charlie Riedel led the charge two weeks ago with heartbreaking photos of oil encased birds, what I noticed emerging end of last week (the visual media desperate for newer angles, perhaps?) were more and more photos of the effects as … beautiful.

(caption: Oil clouds the surface of Barataria Bay June 19, 2010 near Port Sulpher, Louisiana. The BP oil spill has been called one of the largest environmental disasters in American history.)

  • Stan B.

    It’s an aesthetic we’d best start appreciating…

  • Molly

    If you didn’t know what you were looking at, then this is compelling in a modern art sort of way.

    Knowing what you are looking at gives it more emotional impact because the open appreciation of the color and the movement gives way to shock and disgust that something this awful could have anything positive about it.

    C’est la vie.

  • Laura

    It doesn’t look beautiful to me – it looks like some terrifying and heretofore unknown life form, like a hideously deadly new bacterium or paramecium or some such. Maybe a sea monster. Those arms, reaching out to grab us and engulf us too.

  • Chris

    The spawn of Cthulhu!

  • GP

    People pay good money for art by Damien Hirst that is an intense examination of mortality. Why is this any different?

  • PublicSquare

    I believe the disconnect comes in our understanding of beauty as being correspondingly good. Terrifying power can have great beauty, like the glow of a California wildfire or the allure of the Fascist aesthetic. That makes it no less deadly or destructive. Sadly, the Beauty=Good equation is such a profitable visual short-cut for advertisers, the media are unlikely to encourage a more comprehensive understanding of the idea. Perhaps it would be a good thing for us to see more images of this terrifying beauty.

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