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Waves on Sorrento coast

Waves on the Sorrento Coast
Waves on the Sorrento Coast

To stand on a shoreline, watching the waves as they rise, change colour, fold into themselves and collapse, is to witness one of nature’s most remarkable processes, in which something apparently integral, with defined shape and volume, is transfigured into something formless and chaotic.

When an incoming wave breaks on the shore it appears as though the water has come to the end of a long journey, when in fact the water itself has hardly moved. Wind-driven sea waves like these transmit kinetic energy, not water, and the turbulence in the swash zone – which is what we are looking at – is the result of that energy encountering an obstruction (the shelving sea floor, along with the rocks on the left), against which it noisily dissipates. Reinhold has painted a moment of elemental transformation, when energy-transporting waves of oscillation become water-moving waves of translation, otherwise known as ‘surf’. It is an image of inexhaustible energy.

Richard Hamblyn

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