LIFE: A Journey Through Time presents a vision of life on Earth from the Big Bang to the present. For this project Lanting set off on a journey of photographic discovery that paralleled new scientific insights about the history of life. The result is a celebration of our planet that inspires and informs through images and stories of the remarkable diversity of life that exists today. The journey culminates in a new view of nature as a collective force that maintains our planet’s atmosphere—the protective membrane essential to all life.

The LIFE Project combines the visual and performing arts with the natural sciences in innovative and groundbreaking ways. LIFE has been realized as a traveling exhibition, a photographic book, and a multimedia orchestral performance.

“LIFE is a synthesis of my career. I started out as a wildlife photographer pursuing animals one at a time. As I learned more about their lives, my view grew to include their habitats, and animals became ambassadors for ecosystems. Biodiversity superseded ecosystems as a concept for understanding nature as a network made up of untold numbers of species. Yet every one of those living organisms has a unique origin in time, and that is the dimension I have attempted to convey in this project. I hope this project will contribute to bridging the gap between a naturalist’s appreciation for nature and a scientist’s understanding of life. It is my tribute to the kinship and continuity of all life on Earth.”                     — Frans Lanting


Frans Lanting’s LIFE: A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME is a multimedia symphony that celebrates the splendor of life on Earth. It features the imagery of Frans Lanting dynamically choreographed to the music of composer Philip Glass. Each of Lanting’s photographs was envisioned to provide a window in time, enabling viewers to imagine what planet Earth looked like in different eras, as new forms of life arose. The resulting performance is a spectacular and emotionally charged journey through time from the Big Bang to the present in one hour of continuous music and imagery.

The World Premiere of LIFE was presented by the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, California, under the baton of Marin Alsop. It has been performed more than two dozen times in major concert halls including New York’s Lincoln Center and the Barbican in London, and for special occasions including the inauguration ceremony for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, and the World Wildlife Fund’s 50th Anniversary gala at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, attended by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands.

The LIFE Symphony was produced by the Cabrillo Festival in collaboration with Frans Lanting and his partner Christine Eckstrom, composer Philip Glass, music director Marin Alsop, and choreographer Alexander V. Nichols. The Festival commissioned a score from Philip Glass which consists of seven sections adapted from works originally composed for smaller ensembles or solo instruments, and presented for the first time for full orchestra in arrangements by Michael Riesman.


This photographic exhibition is based on Frans Lanting’s epic multi-year project LIFE: A Journey Through Time, a lyrical interpretation of life on earth from its earliest beginnings to its present diversity. Each of Lanting’s images was conceived and produced to provide a window in time, enabling viewers to imagine what planet Earth looked like in different eras, as new forms of life evolved. The result is a glorious photographic portrait of the magical beauty and enduring miracle of our living planet.

In this exhibition, more than sixty large-format photographic panels are combined with interpretive caption panels that explain the photographer’s vision, how the images were created, and their significance to the story of life on Earth.