I discovered the Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky‘s work during a university module entitled ‘Values and the Environment’. Edward’s entrancing images capture just that, as he plays with the boundaries of what makes a “beautiful landscape” by photographing natural sites transformed by industry, and as such underlines the multiple values nature rewards us (rather than as purely aesthetical). I think Edward himself best describes his work as-
“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.”
With these words in mind, the photos seem even more poignant. My particular favourite is the oil spill, which I find a quite haunting picture of the damage caused by the BP oil spill in 2010.