Over the course of the last three decades, Thomas Joshua Cooper has circumnavigated the globe making photographs of the most extreme points and locations surrounding the Atlantic Ocean.
The result is an episodic journey that covers five continents. He has set foot on uncharted land masses, contributing to cartography and earning him naming rights of previously unknown islands and archipelagos. The only artist to have ever made photographs of the two poles, Cooper refers to the body of work as The World’s Edge – The Atlas of Emptiness and Extremity. Professor and Senior Researcher in Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art, Cooper lives in the city with his wife, author Kate Mooney.
In this series of podcasts, Anne Lyden, curator of an exhibition of Cooper’s work which took place at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh from July 2021 to January 2022, catches up with the photographer to learn more about his exploration, his practice and how he has seen first-hand the effects that climate change is having on our planet.
In this episode, Cooper explains why he switched Northern California for Glasgow and how he balances teaching while maintaining his own photographic practice.
Making photographs at the world's edge
In this episode, Anne Lyden asks Cooper about the some of the challenges he faced when making pictures in extreme conditions and the life-changing moment he fell through sea ice at the North Pole.
When Cooper set out to begin his project three decades ago we didn't even have the term climate crisis. And now we know that the reality is that every single cardinal point he recorded over the last three decades will be under water within 35 years as a result of the impact of our changing climate. In this episode, the photographer describes his experiences of witnessing the effect of climate change in person.