Sunday, November 16, 2008

Manufactured Landscapes

I watched a remarkable NFB documentary tonight, digging into the work of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky: Manufactured Landscapes. You can also see most of the photos in the film on his site, and they're pretty incredible views of how people have changed the natural environment. I was tipped off by a short feature on CBC's The Hour and borrowed the film from the library, but if you're curious, his TED talk is a more in-depth (30+ minutes of video) overview of his career, presented by the artist himself.

Many of the scenes of Chinese industrial production, oilfields, mines, giant dams and other industrial settings evoke the dark dystopia of sci-fi -- post-apocalyptic visions from Mad Max, 1984, The Matrix, The Chrysalids, Brave New World and others -- except that these are scenes and images from our actual world. Right now. Yet his photography (and the movie) isn't necessarily depressing...it just presents a view of our current realities and lets us figure out how we want to respond.

Update: My favourite movie writer, Katrina Onstad, reviewed the film when it came out.

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