Striking photos of human scars on Earth

By Cameron Laux
BBC Culture

The Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is a master of the post-industrial sublime. His sweeping point of view is, at the very least, ambivalent. His shots, most recently taken from the coolest possible standpoint of a helicopter and sometimes a satellite, are at first sight surreal and glorious, but they have an ominous documentary undertow.

His large-format photos aestheticise mining, deforestation, industrial waste and decay, monumental piles of garbage, plastic, rubber; expanses of new and decommissioned equipment so vast that they look like crystalline formations; dense human settlements which from an Olympian standpoint look like creeping mould or infestations.

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