The Industrial Sublime: Edward Burtynsky’s Manufacturated Landscapes
Using photos and videos from photographer Edward Burtynsky's trip through China, Jennifer Baichwal created a feature length documentary which surveys the landscapes that have been altered by large-scale human activity. Manufactured Landscapesportrays these industrial terrains with very little commentary, allowing the viewer to focus on the contents of the images. Burtynsky’s photos, which combine vast scales, high resolution, and repetition, reveal environments that seem too large and too complex to fully grasp. Indeed, a sense of the sublime, and the uneasy tension between beauty and horror it invokes, is a continuous strain throughout Burtynsky’s work. The images raise questions about the interplay of environmental ethics and aesthetics, and ask Western viewers to consider their complicity in a industrial culture on which their societies rely.