LOS ANGELES, CA — The Annenberg Space for Photography today announced a photographic interpretation of life on Earth from the Big Bang to the present by acclaimed National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting. LIFE: A Journey Through Time is based on Lanting’s epic, multi-year project and features more than 70 images with texts and stories about the works, as well as an innovative timeline of life on our planet. Exclusive to the traveling exhibition’s presentation at the Annenberg Space for Photography are an original documentary short film and four short videos that explore the human connection to life around us. On view from October 24, 2015 to March 20, 2016, LIFE explores the story of our planet from its earliest beginnings to its present diversity, captured in images that evoke the complex wonder of nature through time.
“We are delighted to bring the majestic work of Frans Lanting to the Annenberg Space for Photography,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “Lanting’s photographic journey combines provocative storytelling with new scientific insights. His seemingly omnipotent ability to look at situations in the natural world provides us with, to quote Lanting, ‘a window into its past.'”
For The LIFE Project, Lanting set off on a journey of photographic discovery that led him to remote locations such as Western Australia’s Shark Bay and Siberia’s Kamchatka Peninsula to capture primordial landscapes–and into unique museum collections to explore fossils and microscopic life. The result is a celebration of planet Earth that aims to educate and inspire through images and stories of the incredible biodiversity that surrounds us.
Organized in sections, the exhibition begins with “Elements,” to interpret Earth’s early history and show interactions among the five classical elements: earth, air, fire, water and space; “Beginnings” traces life from single-celled origins into more complex forms in the sea; “Out of the Sea” evokes the time when life first ventured ashore; “On Land” covers the period when plants and animals colonized solid ground; “Into the Air” highlights the evolutionary innovations of birds and flowering plants, ending with the cataclysmic events that caused the demise of the dinosaurs; “Out of the Dark” portrays the rise of mammals; and the concluding chapter, “Planet of Life,” envisions the collective force of life as a sixth element shaping our planet. An outdoor component of the exhibition, “Future of Life,” portrays present-day challenges to global biodiversity caused by the impact of humans on the planet in an era many scientists now call the Anthropocene.
“The simple idea of looking for the past in the present grew into a challenging photographic undertaking that extended over several years and continues to influence my work today,” said Frans Lanting. “My mission was to create images of nature–from volcanoes to tree frogs–that could evoke a sense of time and origins. I wanted to apply both new scientific ideas to my subjects and new photographic concepts to my images. My approach has been that of a storyteller who draws on characters for the sake of telling a larger tale.”
An original documentary film commissioned by the Annenberg Space for Photography and produced by award-winning director Steven Kochones and Arclight Productions takes viewers on a journey through time via the remarkable images and story of Lanting’s LIFE Project, while recounting Lanting’s own evolution from wildlife photographer to visual chronicler of life on Earth. The film will include interviews with Lanting in his Santa Cruz studio; natural history writer, editor, videographer and longtime Lanting partner and collaborator Christine Eckstrom; horseshoe crab expert Dr. Carl Shuster; Harvard University evolutionary biologist Dr. Andrew Knoll; National Geographic Senior Photo Editor Elizabeth Krist; Ecological Research & Development Group President Glenn Gauvry; Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) geologist Dr. Abigail Allwood; JPL Mars Program Office Chief Scientist Dr. Richard Zurek; pioneering sociobiologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson; UC Santa Cruz Institute of Marine Sciences Director Dr. Gary Griggs; and renowned primatologist and conservationist Dr. Russell Mittermeier.
For the first time, the Annenberg Space for Photography Skylight Studios will be partnering with explore.org to offer programming to complement the LIFE exhibit. Utilizing content and live camera footage from explore.org, Skylight Studios will offer an immersive environment that celebrates species in the sea, on land and in the air. Skylight Studios will also continue to host the popular Iris Nights lecture series with exhibit-related speakers. The full schedule of events will be announced at a later date. The Annenberg Foundation provides bus funding to Title 1 schools, allowing educators to bring students to the Photography Space, free of charge, to experienceLIFE’s wondrous presentation of natural history. The exhibition-related book LIFE: A Journey Through Time will be available for purchase at the Annenberg Space for Photography and at Skylight Studios.