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Nature's Chaos

by Eliot Porter, James Gleick

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211698,279 (3.55)3
Nature's Chaos presents 80-100 colour photographs by Eliot Porter, each highlighting a different element of his lifelong fascination with what he calls the jumble and disorder in nature.

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» See also 3 mentions

English (5)  Finnish (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 5 of 5
Gorgeous! ( )
  Julie_Brock | Apr 12, 2013 |
This is a photography book. It has virtually nothing to do with Chaos. ( )
  hcubic | Feb 17, 2013 |
The photographs taken by Eliot Porter are absolutely amazing and alone are worth every penny I paid for the book and more. Paired with an almost melodic text written by James Gleick, whose words seem to frame the photographs, the book becomes an experience. Take it outside and read it under the branches of your favorite tree.

http://nicolevlozano.blogspot.com/2009/05/kilnformed-soda-lime-glass-close-up-of... ( )
  nicolevl | Jun 3, 2011 |
When I grabbed the book I admit James' name did sound slightly familiar to me, but I didn't really dwell on it. Perhaps if I had thought on it more I would have been better prepared for what was inside.

The photographs are beautiful. Not simply nature shots, but tiny pieces of perfection focused in on to the exclusion of the all else. The scale ranges from an aerial view of an entire flock of flamingos to the bark on a single tree.

However seeing this as simply a pretty picture book is the same as seeing the tree bark as simply part of some tree, to be glanced at and then passed by. The text is about Chaos Theory, by a man who wrote a rather well known book on the subject. I have to admit not only having read parts of that book. The text is about systems within systems. Unpredictability and patterns of nature around us, in all scales.

I had been hoping to find an art book to inspire me with some of the photos I have been taking lately. And this was achieved. All the exotic locations the photographer went to over the years seem to fade to irrelevance, as pictures of leaves in Costa Rica and the Glaciers in Antarctica have the same impact as a picture of leaves floating in a puddle and the bark of a tree from right in the states where the photographer lives. It is inspiring, these patterns are all around us, waiting to be noticed. My photos are but pale imitations of such works. But the very act of taking them makes me pause and notice these things more around me. The act of creation brings it into focus.

I also found a interesting discussion of natural philosophy, chaos theory and the different ways to look at the world around us. Just like the tree bark photo the book deserved a second look for the underlying messages to be imparted so did this book. ( )
  red_dianthus | Jul 7, 2009 |
This is an interesting little book that looks at the relationship between order and chaos.

I arrived at this book because I read and enjoyed James Gleick’s book ‘Genius’ on the life of Richard Feynman,
In essence this is a picture book of photographs taken by Eliot Porter supported by an essay by James. The book is interesting as it conveys a powerful idea very concisely, and then offers the opportunity through the pictures of nature, and the way of seeing they invite, to observe the idea through nature in our everyday lives.

In a nutshell the essay explores the relationship between order and chaos. This is a subject that I increasingly think is very important for understanding change, why it works and why it doesn’t. I think the first thing the book has taught me is a new understanding of what chaos really is. I guess that I’d understood chaos to be chaotic; the absence of order. In reality there is order in chaos, what is missing is our ability to understand it. What we call chaos calls for us to understand order in new ways and to do so we must be able to see in new ways. When we begin to do this, it is not simply our understanding of order that is transformed, but our understanding of what it is to understand. This is where things get really interesting in addressing the challenge of change.

The oft quoted example to illustrate chaos, is that the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world impacts on the growth, or not, of a hurricane in another part. This is quite a difficult and threatening idea to grasp, however when we understand that these same intangible and elusive relationships exist within our organisations and our lives, we glimpse the kind of new seeing and new understanding that is required in order to effect successful change. Once you begin to see in this new way, then patterns you might have called chaos begin to appear in many things you look at, revealing an underlying order not yet understood. Your invitation is therefore not to understand new things, but to understand things in new ways.

The book links to the ideas described in another book I’ve reviewed, ‘Emergence’ and begins to create a web that I believe has potentially great significance in understanding change.

I don’t want to oversell this book. It probably has fewer than five thousand words, and around a hundred pictures of nature, from moss covered roots, to ice covered trees and worn pieces of rock. Much of the impression it has left with me, may be as much to do with the links it forges, as with its content, but perhaps that is its power. In our profoundly interconnected world, it is the space between objects rather than the objects themselves that hold the key to understanding.

I found this book valuable and perhaps like me, it will help you make powerful connections. ( )
  Steve55 | Jan 18, 2009 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Porter, Eliotprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gleick, Jamesmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Nature's Chaos presents 80-100 colour photographs by Eliot Porter, each highlighting a different element of his lifelong fascination with what he calls the jumble and disorder in nature.

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