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Photographer Edward Burtynsky travels the world observing changes in landscapes due to industrial work and manufacturing.

  • Jennifer Baichwal
  • Foundry Films
  • National Film Board Of Canada (NFB)
Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky posits that man made landscapes define who we are as people. He sees a certain physical beauty in the order and/or symmetry in some of these landscapes, despite the negative reasons for them or the subsequent degradation they pose to the environment and people around them. The most extreme examples of these landscapes he finds in China. In manufacturing, two examples he photographs are at the opposite ends of the size scale: ship building, where a certain balance is required in the product itself, and electronics assembly. With the latter, it is not only the rows upon rows of laborers doing the exact same task, but the minuteness of and efficiency in what they are producing. Other examples he photographs are villages where electronic waste recycling is the primary industry. Again, there are the extremes of massive waste heaps against the minute components the laborers of all ages are salvaging. Cities are the most aggregate man made landscapes, and he looks specifically at the recent development of Shanghai, perhaps the fastest growing city in terms of absolute growth. But the vastest example he photographs is the construction and subsequent effects of the Three Gorges Dam, where entire villages, looking like bomb sites, are dismantled since they will eventually be under water.


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