Edward Burtynsky’s stunning photographs manage to be both beautiful and simultaneously horrifying, and film director Jennifer Baichwal has managed to capture both the aesthetic and concept behind Burtynsky’s ground-breaking photography in her recently-debuted documentary film Manufactured Landscapes. The film was shown at the Seattle Film Festival, showcasing Edward Burtynsky’s photography through Baichwal’s aesthetic eye and and Peter Mettler’s artful cinematography. Burtynsky’s work highlights the effects of human interventions on the land, in such a stunning yet critical way that he was awarded the TED Prize for his art in 2005.
In fact, the imagery is downright exhausting for the eye. Every sequence brings immense awe, frustration, disbelief, and wonderment. Whether watching the drone of a consumer products manufacturing plant, or the brute force of ship building and breaking, it’s sensory overload with Burtynsky.
The tour of human impact is very apolitical, which Baichwal hit home in her comments. The imagery of humans’ clash with the environment is there for all to see and absorb. The effects of our industrialized world is plain to see. There is no right or wrong attached. “I hope that the film initiates the conversation without polarizing you. It’s not telling you to think in a certain way … ambiguity is the source of the work’s power,” Baichwal said.
The film certainly raises awareness around both the inputs and outputs of our manufactured world. From the mined metal, to the assembly labor, to the mounds of waste … we pay a steep price in natural and human capital to meet our material demands. Go find this film. It will refresh your perspective on the effect our collective consumerism has on the Earth.
Here’s the lineup through the summer.