Monday, April 6, 2009

Nature Transformed by Industry

(Above) Rock of Ages # 26,
Abandoned Section, E.L. Smith Quarry, Barre, Vermont, 1991

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(Above) Rock of Ages # 4,
Abandoned Section, Adam-Pirie Quarry, Barre, Vermont, 1991

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(Above) Rock of Ages # 2,
Granite Quarry, Bebee, Quebec, 1991

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(Above) Rock of Ages # 45,
Abandoned Section, Rock of Ages Quarry, Vermont, 1991

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(Above) Silver Lake Operations # 1,
Lake Lefroy, Western Australia, 2007

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(Above) Silver Lake Operations # 4,
Lake Lefroy, Western Australia, 2007
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(Above) China Recycling #12,
Ewaste Sorting, Zeguo, Zhejiang Province, 2004
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(Above) China Recycling #7,
Wire Yard, Wenxi, Zhejiang Province, 2004
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(Above) China Recycling #2,
Cutter, Fengjiang, Zhejiang Province, 2004
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MOST OF MAN’S IMPACT ON THIS EARTH IS NEGATIVE. Since man first started making tools, we have systematically “taken” from the earth. While there is no way to improve Mother Nature, there is a way to walk more softly upon it.

Edward Burtynsky travels all over the world to photograph those places where man’s negative impact on earth is undeniable. Though we need many of these resources to survive, Burtynsky manages to find beauty within the destruction.

Burtynsky (b. 1955) is one of Canada’s most respected photographers. He links his early exposure to the sites and images of the General Motors plant in his hometown to the development of his photographic work. Edward Burtynsky’s imagery explores the intricate connection between industry and nature; combining the raw elements of mining, quarrying, manufacturing, shipping, oil production and recycling into eloquent, highly expressive visions that find beauty and humanity in the most unlikely of places.

Burtynsky describes his work this way:

Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon, and so on. To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning. Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.

These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire - a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.

3 comments:

Kipik said...

Huge fan of Burtinsky! When I saw his actual prints at the Art gallery of ontario in Toronto, I was inawe. The prints are huge. The composition: perfect, colours: perfect, impact: perfect, the images worked ideally wether far away or very up close. The details are surprising, unexpected, humorous, the subjects grave... what more can I say, he is the new photography genius.

Stephen said...

I used to see his work at the Mira Goddard Gallery in Toronto in the late 80's, I've never forgotten them. The colors were simply astounding.

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