Sunday, 10 January 2010

I need a shower

So I gave up a thrashing on the soccer field for a thrashing of another kind - an hour-long discussion by photographer Edward Burtynsky. Tony Fouhse blogs about the show and the work more effectively here. Burtynsky's large-scale photos of large-scale industrial installations - dams, mines, manufacturing plants and such are beautiful and terrifying and beautiful - a  body of work he describes as a "long visual lament" of the effect of our human activity on the planet. To wit, in China:

  • The government plans an urban-rural population split of 70/30 percent. This means a wave of humanity as large as the combined populations of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
  • At any one time, there are as many chickens as there are humans on the planet.
  • The largest factories can feed 7,000 people in 20 minutes.
At the heart of Burtynsky's work is the dilemma - a polite understatement, given the implications of the sites he's been shooting - we all face. Our existence on this planet inevitably involves using its resources. Yet our quest for comfort - and other countries' pursuit of our own comfortable lifestyle - may render it uninhabitable. 

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