Planète Méditerranée (Mediterranean Planet) - Laurent Ballesta


Are we still capable of producing truly original images on the Mediterranean? The Mediterranean… Knowing that man has been traveling these waters for thousands of years, it’s easy to imagine that the sea no longer holds any secrets. Knowing that it has been conquered and mistreated, easy to imagine that it’s also been devastated. And yet, the Mediterranean remains a thriving body of water still waiting to be fully explored. Over its depths lie extensive and abundant territories that mankind has barely gotten to know: the coral reefs. These biodiversity ‘hotspots’ whose beauty rivals that of the reefs lie in the “twilight zone” between 60 and 120 m (196 and 393 ft) below the surface, where less than 1% of light actually penetrates. Study, illustrate and expose the unfamiliar part of the teeming undersea life of the Mediterranean: such is the last challenge undertaken by Laurent Ballesta, famous photographer, biologist and leader of expeditions.

Mediterranean Planetforms a sequel to Laurent Ballesta’s latest works: Secrets d’Océans (Oceans’ Secrets), Adélie Terre & Mer (Adélie Earth & Sea) and 700 requins dans la nuit (700 Sharks in the Dead of Night). It represents the accomplishment of his personal endeavors during the eponymous July 2019 expedition, while also providing closure to the more comprehensive effort underway in the Mediterranean. This publication is thus a compilation of the biologist-photographer’s most spectacular shots from 2010 through the present day. This project not only pertains to optimizing scientific research efforts and technical performance, but more importantly it serves to promote a promise of powerful and one-of-a-kind images, commented in the publication Mediterranean Planet.

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Over the years, photographer Laurent Ballesta has established himself as one of the most emblematic figures in naturalist and underwater photography. A biologist, he is of course an outstanding diver, experimenting the most extreme conditions of the practice, less out of a taste for danger than to access the mysteries of the depths until then remained inaccessible. Each of his expeditions is a technical challenge to allow him to surpass the physical limits of body and liquid matter a little more at each descent, and to advance even further and longer in the space of the abyss. Explore and bring back original images that combine aesthetic and scientific approach: diving and photography have been intimately linked since his beginnings at the age of 13. His latest adventure led him last summer to stay for 28 days at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. A world first. With Antonin Guilbert, marine biologist, Thibault Rauby, diving instructor, instructor and assistant lighting technician, and Yanick Gentil, camera diver, they achieved the feat of diving four hundred hours, carrying out 31 dives and going down to 142 meters deep!

With his book Mediterranean Planet, Laurent Ballesta offers a new perspective on the Mediterranean Sea, cradle of our civilization and epic space that has nourished the imagination of men for millennia. His odyssey takes us to the discovery of a meta-terrestrial world, populated by supernatural creatures. A living world whose magic hitherto escaped human sight. Sometimes his photographs seem closer to abstraction, made with transparencies and singular formal structures. Above all, it is the colors that captivate, both those of natural settings and those of certain rare specimens: moments of grace offered by the spectacular beauty of an extraordinary planet, as Laurent Ballesta emphasizes, he who dreamed of being an “oceanaut” and never ceases to hope that “beauty will save the world”.

About Laurent Ballesta:
“Laurent Ballesta is one of Cousteau’s rightful heirs, a child prodigy who, in building on the work of his celebrated predecessor, has created a legend of his own. He has added a new dimension to the way in which we see the Ocean, that of the unparalleled sensitivity of his own perception. A scientific yet romantic view, the eye of an artist and expert that misses nothing. Tenderness and rigor are the hallmarks of all of Laurent Ballesta’s work. […] The soul of his work stems from his innate sense of beauty, harmony and aesthetics. does not betray or transgress the beauty of Nature, he renders it, sometimes exalts it, but above all he makes it accessible and awe-inspiring.” Nicolas Hulot, in preface of the album Reporters Without Borders dedicated to Laurent Ballesta, published in July 2020.

About Planète Méditerranée expedition:
“When ecology is viewed as a lost cause, exploration and conservation become the noblest of battles. If dreams can still be cherished, then the first step is to peel away the illusions. In looking back at my previous expeditions, I believe that this project is both the boldest and most proximate since it takes place right here in the Mediterranean. As for the technical and sports performance aspects, we’ve broken new ground, and I’m not exaggerating. It’s been 18 years that I’ve been waiting to explore under such conditions.”
Laurent Ballesta.

Back cover

On any trip, his vehicle. Towards the stars, a spaceship, towards the abyss, a bathyal ship. The great depths are the distant planets of a nearby galaxy. 100 m, 120 m, 140 m, these distances are derisory and impassable at the same time. This universe is neither near nor far, it is only elsewhere. So to reach it is to join a parallel world: Laurent Ballesta and his comrades went very far, without really leaving. They stayed at home in the Mediterranean. And, in the twilight light of still virgin spaces, life can be dazzling. Where few divers venture are oases that seem to resist destruction and extinction. They are the last refuges for all those pushed back from a pressurized coastline. Here are the portraits of these strangers on borrowed time and of these landscapes in danger. More than a new world, it is another planet: the Mediterranean Planet.

Technical Information
Size: 30×24,5 cm, landscape
304 pages
200 color photographs Case bound book, hard cover Bilingual text, French/English

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Additional information

Weight 3 kg
Dimensions 300 × 245 mm

Laurent Ballesta


Andromède Océanologie / Hemeria,

Texts languages

Bilingual text, French/English

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