Like A Rogue Species: Edward Burtynsky

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky was discussing his work and the exponential proliferation of humans since the 1950s that makes it possible. “That’s literally a billion in every decade,” he says, “so I started recognizing that human enterprise was expanding like a rogue species.” The impact of mankind on the natural world is at the core of Burtynsky’s photography, and the resulting images are often provocative and sometimes even disturbing.

“I see that we’re stretching the boundaries and limits of what we can do in nature, without it starting to bite back.”- Edward Burtynsky

For more than thirty years, Burtynsky (who won the TED prize in 2005) has documented the effects of globalization, manufacturing and the depletion of natural resources in his large-scale photographs. From the shipbreaking graveyards of Bangladesh to the massive mineral mines and recycling yards of the United States and Canada, Burtynsky’s photographs show the effects of a species with an insatiable appetite for raw materials and an inability to efficiently discard what it no longer needs or wants. Humans have reshaped the world around them and, in the process, put their own future in jeopardy. For his latest project, called Watermark, Burtynsky collaborated once again with Jennifer Baichwal, who directed his previous film, Manufactured Landscapes (which is fantastic). “When I was first contemplating water,” Burtynsky says, “one of the key things I was thinking about is how does water shape us and then how do we shape water.” Through stills, motion and timelapse, the film takes the viewer across ten countries to illustrate the fragile relationship between humans and their most precious natural resource through twenty incredible stories. In addition to the film, the photographs are available as a gorgeous book, simply called Water.

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[via NYTimes Lens]

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