Sometimes things go past without us noticing, seedlings grow, seasons change and however many twists and turns our lives may take, nature unobtrusively exists alongside us. Rather than getting his "ears blown out" at gigs, Glen E Friedman, the notorious photographer of hip hop's golden era has taken his lens away from the stage and instead he's pointing it to the sky. Booking the window seat, and documenting "the uniqueness of every single second never to be possible again," Recognize is the result of a five year project to capture the beauty of the world above. To Glen, clouds represent "the planet, our dreams, the past and the future. Absolute beauty, and perfection in nature." Famed for his insider's perspective and "personal responsibility to the planet to inspire through vision and pictures", Glen adopts the same intimacy he did with the musicians, skaters and individuals who defined his career and whose careers he, in turn, helped define. Glen has always championed and documented the outsider and the caustic, from the American hardcore movement (photographing bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat and Bad Brains), to the early '80s rap scene (Run DMC, Ice T and Public Enemy), right down to Tony Alva's Lords Of Dogtown skate era. In Recognize, page after page of huge, bold, other-worldly cumulus clouds in fluctuating colours, shape and density suck you in, spin you out and submerge you deep in the stratosphere. "So much of what has been passing for art in my lifetime really has so little technical skill, so little craftsmanship involved, so little of anything of interest to me other than some occasional entertainment. This was my chance to truly realign the aesthetic." There's something resolutely powerful yet disconcertingly unsettling, as the clouds swirl and balloon above us, quietly in their own glory and we in oblivion rush back and forth below. "Plain heavenly," Glen iterates. It makes you feel guilty for not noticing. Go on, look up. We dare you. HOLLY SHACKLETON
- Recognize by Glen E Friedman is out now published by Burning Flags Press.