Oct 22, 2008


Dwell is featuring a center spread of Edward Burtynsky's quarries in their November issue. each time i see his work in a magazine, the quarry photos especially, i'm always really impressed. i've seen these images countless times, but the space they depict on the small pages of a magazine always amazes me. every time i feel like i'm being tricked by some optical illusion. his use of line, and understanding of geometry, is something i find myself more impressed with in painting, but he succeeds in such a big way here.

the reason i continue to find myself surprised by my reaction each time i see this work, is because i was so underwhelmed by Manufactured Landscapes. i'm a little embarrassed to say i fell asleep the first time i watched it, and barely made it through the second time. so often, the back story to the photos enhances my experience, but i don't feel it with Burtynsky. not in the film anyway.

so, does that make his photographs even more successful for me? do i judge them more intensely? do i do the opposite with others' work? do i elevate lesser work because i love the back story? does it matter? probably not.

maybe it's time i try viewing #3.

© Edward Burtynsky


Ben M. said...

Manufactured Landscapes was a little dry. It didnt really seem to have any great insights. I remember viewing his work at Stanford a few years back. It was great to people watch. Folks would walk right up to admire the colors. But, I they would not really dig into what they were looking at.

ben huff said...

dry is a good word. i was looking for insights as well. with this type of work, access is everything, but i came away feeling like i knew more about his assistant than him.

Ben M. said...

When I read about him or his work, he seems to want to stay out of the spotlight. He mostly claims that hes just starting the argument. It seems that there is a reason for the argument. And he seems to be only presenting one side. Im sure there are connections between his work and say ANWR. Perhaps connecting with the people who stand to benefit from the drilling. For example, the people of Alaska getting bigger govt. checks in the mail. Then showing those who are displaced. I guess there are many ways to go with it.

Oh, by the way, "Oil on Ice" is a great documentary about the refuge.

ben huff said...

i like the idea of just starting the argument. that is largely what photography does best.
and, yes, Oil and Ice is a good film, and becoming increasingly more relevant.

Ben said...

Oh, and one thing on access. I think he made his photos of oil drilling in California without access. If I remember correctly, he trespassed to get those shots. Another side note, I was reading about a sea of Airstreams hitting Alaska. The Alaskan economy gets a shot in the arm from tourists. And these tourists come to see the Nat'l Parks. It seems there is a consumerism circle going on here.

ben huff said...

thanks for this Ben. i'm going to dig into Burtynsky a little more, past the images themselves.
yes, tourism is huge business up here. i started a project on the RVrs in a neighboring town last summer, but the series is only 1/2 baked...more like 1/8 baked.

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