In fact, Transience is the title of an emblematic image of the beach in winter, with footprints in the damp sand leading toward a lone wanderer in the distance. Here the waves seem cast in pewter, dimly reflecting a sun obscured by the sea fog that wafts over the horizon. As a landscape, this study in minimalism is about as far from Ansel Adams as you can get, but that's probably a good thing under the circumstances. Of course, drama is never really absent. Ascension is a classical Florida beachscape with cottony cumulus clouds in a darkly cosmic sky rising over a sand dune topped with a thatch of foliage and grasses and, for a moment, you can forget that this is really a state park and not one of Walter Anderson's uninhabited barrier islands. Echo is a view of a long dead, sun-bleached, storm-sundered tree, its remaining branches outstretched in a horizontal pantomime of anguish, and here we enter the world of surreal nature, the fabled preserve of Max Ernst, Clarence Laughlin and Frederick Sommer.
This view of nature as a tangled labyrinth appears in his swamp scenes as well, in his Medieval Dreams series of landscapes of massive live oaks rising from tangled vines in wilderness preserves. Similar sensibilities also surface in a series of still life studies of birds' nests in which the usual straw and reeds are interwoven with twist ties and other discarded artifacts of human consumer culture. Ultimately, the power of this series, in the show as in the book, rests with its subtleties and silences, the familiarity of the swampy jungle that miraculously reappears as soon as any parcel of land in these parts is neglected and in the all too familiar sight of dead trees in swamp forests decimated by storms or the clear-cutting by commercial interests that only seems to invite more, and potentially apocalyptic, storm damage. All in all, Terra Incognita makes for an interesting meditation on the more intimate and familiar side of nature and the arcane, sometimes surprising mysteries contained therein.