Olaf Otto Becker

Olaf Otto Becker (*1959 in Lübeck-Travemünde) studierte von 1981-89 Kommunikationsdesign mit Schwerpunkt Fotografie in Augsburg und anschließend Philosophie an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in München. Er hat zahlreiche Auszeichnungen für seine Fotografien erhalten und war mit vielen Einzel- und Gruppenausstellungen im In- und Ausland vertreten. Im Hatje Cantz Verlag hat er bereits drei Publikationen herausgegeben. Für sein neues Buch „Reading the Landscape“ zeigt er uns hier einen „Blick hinter die Kulissen“ und beschreibt das Making of.

Olaf Otto Becker (*1959 in Lübeck-Travemünde) studied communications design (majoring in photography) from 1981-1989 in Augsburg, and then later studied photography at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. He has received many awards for his photographs and they have been shown in numerous solo and group shows, both in Germany and abroad. He has already published three books with Hatje Cantz. For his new book, Reading the Landscapes, he is providing us with a “peek behind the curtain,” describing the “making of” the project.

Nature Trail

Series: Reading the Landscape

Visitors to a giant glasshouse—known, like the famous internet server, as “The Cloud”—walk along modern nature trails and past a forty-meter-high artificial waterfall, encountering nature by means of modern communication technology. This is a nature guaranteed free of leeches, spiders, and snakes, where the sounds of birds and cicadas are played through hidden loudspeakers, and where the crocodiles and giant tortoises are carved out of wood. In the video room you can spend a few minutes in air-conditioned comfort while watching a film loop showing colorful charts and facts about the horrors of environmental destruction. Once you’ve had enough of this, warm steam rising from hidden jets will gently transport you to the tropics as you take your leave. Bouquets of plants mounted on concrete walls, something that nature itself could never have come up with, invite contemplation of the natural world. In the lavatories near the exit, lotus blossom-shaped urinals, floral wallpaper, and recorded birdsong ensure your visit finishes in a relaxing atmosphere.


Series: Reading the Landscape

Just off the coast of Singapore, only seventy kilometers as the crow flies from the devastation on Rangsang Island, is an artificial island built of sand dug from the sea bed where plants are being cultivated on a new scale. Creatives have designed “supertrees” which sprout from its soil, and by which they aim to attract visitors from all over the world to the “Gardens by the Bay.”



Sumatra, Riau Province, Indonesia, March 2012.

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Sumatra, Riau Province, Indonesia, March 2012.
We ran into Amin and Yanti Petani while walking down a road. They told us that they had just been building their own house. They had finally won their land back after a ten-year legal battle with an international paper company. The land had originally been a small paradise where their ancestors had also lived. However, before they got the land back, the paper company harvested it for one last time.

In many places in Indonesia, there is no properly held land registry. This situation makes it easier for companies to exploit the land for their own purposes on a large scale.


Sumatra, Provinz Riau, Indonesien, März 2012.
Entlang einer Straße begegneten uns Amin und Yanti Petani. Sie berichteten, dass sie sich gerade ihr eigenes Haus bauten. Ihr Grundstück hatten sie nach einem zehn Jahre andauernden Rechtsstreit gegen einen internatio­nalen Papierkonzern nun endlich zurückbekommen. Das Land war ursprünglich ein kleines Paradies, wo auch
Ihre Vorfahren lebten. Bevor sie ihr Land  zurück bekamen erntete der Papierkonzern das Land zum letzten Mal ab.

In vielen Gegenden Indonesiens gibt es keine Urkunden, die den Landbesitz dokumentieren.

So ist es leicht die Bauern zu enteignen.

Ghosttrees after deforestation


Ghosttrees in North Borneo, Malaysia