In this age of climate change and rising sea levels, affluent cultures in Europe have employed the best and brightest minds in civil engineering to create defenses against natural catastrophe. At the same time, these societies strive to create “picturesque” landscapes that are, in fact, quite unnatural.

The young German photographer, Claudius Schulze, has embarked on a journey to explore and document some of the most elaborate interventions to be found in Germany, England, the Netherlands, and several other European countries. He bought a van with a “cherry picker” platform that can lift him and his 4x5 large-format camera high enough to obtain sweeping panoramic views of places where nature’s beauty has been cleverly engineered to resist disaster—while also looking as pretty as possible.

“The picturesque is the domestication of nature into a landscaped park. The picturesque reduces nature to the pleasant and consumable.”

As Oskar Piegsa says in his essay about this project, “These photos are not focused on defining the boundary between culture and nature. On the contrary: they show us very clearly how much the two spheres penetrate each other, at least in affluent European countries.”

In our present age, the Anthropocene, our planet is undergoing rapid warming, erosion, deforestation, ocean acidification, extinction and more. As Piegsa writes, “the picturesque is the domestication of nature into a landscaped park. The picturesque reduces nature to the pleasant and consumable.”

LensCulture is pleased to present a small preview of this ambitious, important project. A Kickstarter campaign is underway to fund the publication of an elegant, large-format book filled with exquisite photographs, insightful texts, and satellite images of natural disasters from places around the world where such man-made defenses are not yet in place.

We’ve seen a prototype of the book, and it is impressive. It elevates the idea of disaster management to a whole new level. Order an advance copy to support the work and help get this important message out into the world.

—Jim Casper