What Internet Memes Get Wrong About Breezewood, Pennsylvania

By Amanda Hurley

It’s summer, and for hundreds of thousands of Americans, that means at least one burger-and-bathroom break in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. This half-mile gauntlet of gas stations, fast-food outlets, and motels, its oversized signs towering above the surrounding countryside, is familiar to anyone who has to drive regularly from the East Coast to the Midwest or vice versa.

As the New York Times explained in 2017, Pennsylvania’s “Gas Vegas”sprang up because of an obsolete law. Breezewood is a deliberately awkward transition between Interstate 70 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where they (almost) meet. Back in the 1950s, as I-70 was being built, a law prohibited spending federal funds to channel drivers directly from a free road to a toll road. The law was later overturned, but to comply with it, highway planners designed a looping interchange that lets drivers avoid the turnpike if they (hypothetically) want to. From this constant stream of slow-moving traffic, a mega-rest-stop was born.

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Edward Burtynsky, le Yann Arthus-Bertrand de la fin du monde

By Margaux Dussert

Les images du photographe Edward Burtynsky ont des allures de peintures abstraites. Avec elles, c'est la dévastation de la Terre par nos industries que ce dernier enregistre : une réalité de pétrole, de métal, de pelleteuses et d'épaves. L'anthropocène vu du ciel en somme.

J’ai toujours été frappé par ce paradoxe : nous sommes dépendants d’une foule d’objets issus de mines et d’usines, et pourtant, on ne voit jamais ni les unes, ni les autres.

Vous êtes né en Ontario, au Canada, une région marquée par sa dépendance à l’industrie automobile. Ce souvenir a-t-il été l’élément déclencheur de votre travail ?

EDWARD BURTYNSKY : Oui, je crois. Mon père travaillait chez General Motors. Le métal qui coule dans d’énormes cuves, les immenses machines... sont mes premiers souvenirs. Je crois que j’avais 7 ans. St. Catharines, où j’ai grandi, a toujours été un lieu de passage pour les porte-conteneurs. Ils y chargent et déchargent une grande quantité de matériaux en vrac. J’ai été exposé très jeune à tout ça, et j’ai rapidement compris comment ces industries fonctionnent, comment les matériaux nous parviennent, dans quels contenants…

Read the full interview here.

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Paul and Ed's Excellent Adventure

World-famous environmental photographer Edward Burtynsky and IDEAS host Paul Kennedy both grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario. In fact, their childhood homes were less than 300 metres apart, and young paperboy Paul delivered a daily dose of newspaper comic strips to future visual artist Ed.

Paul and Ed lived parallel lives close to — but separate from — each other. When they eventually met in 2008, they talked about one day doing an episode of IDEAS, in which they'd return home to revisit their shared roots. Well, they did it: welcome to Paul and Ed's Excellent Adventure. The two made plans to visit the old GM plant on Ontario Street where both of their fathers had worked. The plant was bought by General Motors in 1929 to manufacture cars after World War I and was the largest employer in St. Catharines until its closure in 2010. 

Listen to the full episode here.

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The Haunting Snapshots of an Environment Under Siege

By Michael Hardy

NORILSK, RUSSIA, IS an industrial city of 175,000 people located 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, a place so far north that it is completely dark for two months every winter. Founded as a Soviet prison labor camp, an estimated 650,000 prisoners were sent here by Stalin between 1935 and 1956; 250,000 are believed to have died from starvation or overwork.

It’s a city abounding in superlatives: Norilsk is Russia’s northernmost, coldest, and most polluted city. Why would anyone choose to live in this former gulag? Because below the ground are vast deposits of some of the world’s most valuable minerals, including palladium, which is used in cellphones and sells for about $970 an ounce.

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Edward Burtynsky: The Anthropocene Project

By Lauren Kelly, 
British Journal of Photography

The Canadian native has captured some of the largest examples of extractions on the planet, set to be displayed at the National Gallery of Canada and Art Gallery of Ontario

“Most people would walk by a dump pile and assume that there’s no picture there,” says global industrial landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky. “But there’s always a picture, you just have to go in there and find it.” Born in Canada in 1955, Burtynsky has been investigating human-altered landscapes in his artistic practice for over 35 years, capturing the sweeping views of nature altered by industry; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, and silicon. “Of course, it’s important to me to make sure that my pictures are attractive to the eye,” he says. “But beneath the surface there’s always a bigger, deeper environmental issue.”

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The Proust Questionnaire: Edward Burtynsky

The Proust Questionnaire started as a Late Victorian parlour game, aimed at revealing key aspects of a person’s character. While still in his teens, author Marcel Proust answered a similar series of questions with such enthusiasm that, when the manuscript containing his original answers was discovered in 1924, his name became permanently associated with this type of informal interview.

Read the Proust Questionnaire with Edward Burtynsky here.

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edward burtynsky captures the 'human signature' of the proposed new anthropocene era

By Kat Barandy

this fall, the canadian photography institute of the national gallery of canada and the art gallery of ontario will co-present ‘anthropocene.’ these two new contemporary art exhibitions tell the story of the human impact on the earth and feature the work of photographer edward burtynsky.

in the year 2000, nobel-prize winning chemist paul jozef crutzen first popularized the term ‘anthropocene’ to describe a proposed new geologic era characterized by the evident ‘human signature’ on the planet. since then, the controversial idea has sparked a vigorous and passionate debate among an international group of scientists regarding the actual geologic credibility of the term. critics argue that while the proposition is eye catching, one cannot define a new geologic era without specifying its precise boundaries in the earth’s rock strata. this controversy surrounding the formal termination of the holocene and the beginning of this new ‘human epoch’ sparked photographer edward burtynsky’s ‘anthropocene project.’ 

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Edward Burtynsky is one of the most interesting photographers of the built environment

​​​​​​I'm in a gallery looking at several enormous photographs, though it isn't clear that they are photographs, unless you look at the captions.

Some look like abstract expressionist paintings, swirls of paint dotted and dragged along a canvas, murky and intricate but completely without realism. But then I read the caption and it says "Phospor Tailings Pond #2, Polk County, Florida, USA, 2012", or "Dryland Farming #17, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain, 2011". And what looks like an art-brut rendering of a series of daggers is "Salt Pans #25, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016".

In just a couple of photographs, you can clearly see traces of familiar objects – cars parked amidst reservoirs in the graph-like constructivist image of "Pivot Irrigation/Suburb, South of Yuma, Arizona, USA, 2011", or the clearly visible, if diagrammatic, pattern of descending paddy fields in "Rice Terrace #4, Western Yunnan Province, China".

They all look pretty, at first. But when you try and piece together what you're seeing, and try to relate it to any landscape you know, they're frightening.

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Honorary doctorate for legendary St. Catharines photographer

By Dan Dakin
The Brock News

Edward Burtynsky has gone around the world capturing remarkable images of humanity’s impact on our planet, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

His images appear in more than 60 major museums, including the Guggenheim, but Niagara is where the roots of his art were planted. It’s also where a large collection of his photographs can be found hanging in the Rodman Hall Art Centre.

Burtynsky was awarded an honorary doctorate from Brock University on Friday, June 8, and told the large group of graduands from the Faculties of Humanities, and Math and Science, that Niagara was where he first became interested in industrial landscapes.

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World-Renowned Photographer Edward Burtynsky to receive honorary degree at Brock’s Spring Convocation

Friday, June 8, 10 a.m. — Edward Burtynsky, World-Renowned Photographer

His remarkable photographs of industrial landscapes have been included in the collections of more than 60 major museums around the world, but it was in his hometown of St. Catharines that Edward Burtynsky first learned his craft.

Known as one of Canada’s most respected photographers, Burtynsky was influenced early in his career by the images of Niagara’s General Motors plants. His images explore the collective impact we’re having on the planet, looking at the human systems we’ve imposed onto natural landscapes.

When he receives an honorary doctorate from Brock University on Friday, June 8, it will be Burtynsky’s eighth such degree.

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Edward Burtynsky: 'The technical revolution has turned us into a virus'

By Nick Glass
CNN Style

Edward Burtynsky likes to think big. It's always been his natural inclination. Every time the Canadian photographer frames an image, he imagines it big. The bigger the print the better -- anything up to 9 feet by 18 feet -- which makes complete sense, given the size of his subject matter.

For some 35 years, Burtynsky has been photographing humankind's industrial intervention in natural landscapes. His panoramas have expanded with technology. Since 2003, he has used helicopters and, since 2012, a bespoke drone. His images help us look down on our planet in a new and detailed way.

We all know that humans are scarring the landscape. But Burtynsky provides the visual evidence on a breathtaking scale: great wounds slashed into the earth -- from coal and copper mines, oil refineries, salt pans -- and all the wasteland, spills and debris that result from them.

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By Sarah Straussberg

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Photo London since its launch in 2015. Having created the ‘Master of Photography’ award for previous winners Sebastião Salgado, Don McCullen, and Taryn Simon, I was thrilled this year to design an original piece of work for another hugely talented photographic artist, Edward Burtynsky.

To begin, I spent some time immersing myself in his work, drawn to the birds-eye view he uses and the incredible detail of textures and vibrant colour he captures. Listening to Burtynsky describe the photographs as a documentation of what we as humans do to our earth really inspired me to keep the design clean, simple and a reflection of his ideas. 

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Edward Burtynsky unveils preview of Anthropocene project at Photo London

By Anny Shaw
The Art Newspaper

Much like archaeological eras, the Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s projects tend to span long stretches of time. He spent a decade working on his Oil series and five years on the Water project. But, for the past five years, he has been preoccupied by the Anthropocene project, part of which was unveiled for the first time at Photo London art fair yesterday, 16 May (until 20 May).

Most striking among the works is a high resolution mural showing a Carrara marble quarry, a more than six metre-long panorama made by seamlessly stitching together 122 50-megapixel files. The piece literally comes to life using augmented reality (AR)—when you hold an iPad up to the print, the image on the screen pans out to reveal the magnitude of the scene, complete with moving trucks and diggers.

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By Mr Tom Seymour
Mr. Porter

This week, Mr Edward Burtynsky will fly to London to be garlanded as Photo London’s Master of Photography. At the fair, he will exhibit, for the first time, images from his Anthropocene project, a sprawling, years-in-the-making, multinational blockbuster of a photography show, with a bolt-on a feature film and “augmented-reality experience” that explores the impact humans are having on the earth.

The Canadian curator Mr Marc Mayer calls them “exquisite pictures of ugliness”. For decades, Mr Burtynsky has documented some of the most damaged places on the planet, such as the floating slum of Makoko in Lagos, the graveyard of ship hulks in Bangladesh and the flattened jungles of Borneo. He uses a precision large-format camera to create impossibly detailed photographs. They are, Mr Mayer says, “a dystopian sublime”, inarguable, highly aesthetic evidence of the havoc our species is wreaking on the natural world.

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Q & A with Photographer Edward Burtynsky

By Franca Toscano 
Blouin Art Info

Edward Burtynsky is a landscape photographer of a very particular kind: he shoots landscapes and natural settings that have been excavated, cut up, and often gutted by mankind, all in the name of progress. The 63-year-old Canadian is being honored at the Photo London fair (May 17-20) with a tribute and special exhibition featuring his latest work. Modern Painters interviewed him before the fair.

Read the Q&A here

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LONDON, UK, May 14, 2018, 8:00 a.m. (GMT+1) — World-renowned artist Edward Burtynsky will be unveiling his first Augmented Reality (AR) Installation as part of his special exhibition during Photo London at Somerset House in London, UK, May 17-20, 2018 where he is being honoured as this year’s Master of Photography. 

The AR Installation, AR #1, Scrap Engine and Rims, Agbogbloshie Recycling Yards, Accra, Ghana 2017, invites visitors to explore the recycling of automotive machine parts from a scrap yard in Accra, Ghana in three dimensions. Made up of over 4,000 images seamlessly stitched together, the piece virtually recreates these objects within the exhibition space. Burtynsky's embracing of AR technology is a natural extension of his 40-year exploration of human systems and their impact on the planet.

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Edward Burtynsky: ‘We can’t all live off the land, so we’re kind of in a pickle’

By Nancy Durrant
The Times

Sometimes there is only one feasible response when someone shows you a cool thing, and that is: “Woah!” I’m standing in the downtown Toronto studio of the photographer Edward Burtynsky, pointing an iPad at a target on the floor. The artist and his partner, Julia Johnston (who also works in the studio), are looking on and laughing, because I’m amazed. There’s nothing on the floor, but through the iPad I can see, walk around and peer into a 3D pile of discarded car tyre rims. It’s from a scrapyard in Accra, Ghana, and is made of tens of thousands of images stitched together by recently developed, powerful software to create this uncanny experience. Burtynsky reaches politely over my shoulder and shows me how to flip between several — what, images? Scenes? I don’t even know the right word — all pin-sharp. I say “woah” again.

This augmented-reality installation will be part of Burtynsky’s exhibition at Photo London, which runs from Thursday to Sunday next week at Somerset House. The artist has been named the annual fair’s master of photography (previous winners of the award include Taryn Simon, Don McCullin and Sebastião Salgado), which recognises a photographer’s stature and impact — or, as Burtynsky puts it when I ask what he thinks it means: “Longevity, persistence, quality. Not giving up.”

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Photo London's Master of Photography in 2018 - A Talk with Edward Burtynsky

By Angie Kordic

Edward Burtynsky is a Master of Photography – and not just because that is his honorable title at this year’s Photo London.

This Canadian fine art photographer certainly is one of the most prolific visual artists today, with a practice that chronicles the impacts of the human kind on its planet. From sawmills and oil bunkers in Nigeria to the salt pans in India and mines in Australia and Canada, his imagery is a striking reminder of what a man’s greed and carelessness can do to landscapes that mean life.

Listen to the talk and continue reading here.

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Milne’s Mineshafts: A Conversation

On the event of the exhibition David Milne: Modern Painting, running at London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery from 14 February – 7 May 2018, fellow Canadian artist and Photo London Master of Photography 2018 Edward Burtynsky discussed with exhibition co-curator Sarah Milroy the extraordinary legacy of Milne’s work and the relationship between the painter’s pictures and Burtynsky’s early photographs.

Read the discussion here.

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Edward Burtynsky’s environmental themes emerge with a harmonious new context at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

By Murray Whyte
Toronto Star 

Edward Burtynsky’s great big photographs ooze uncomfortable truth, though the artist himself, careful not to preach, once took a more ambivalent stance. But at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, where a few dozen of the 76 pictures he recently donated to the museum are now on view, an unintended synergy freights even his earliest images with the unleavened urgency they demand. Terrible beauty, Burtynsky’s esthetic calling card, remains present, never fear. But these days, terror comes first.

The Burtynsky show, Witness, is surrounded by Water Works, an engaging, alarming exhibition that largely concerns itself with the accreting perils of depleting, poisoning or otherwise contaminating our most precious resource. The AGH, for its part, cries coincidence, but, seriously: To get to his pictures, you have to first walk right through it. Taken together, they send alarm bells ringing: Effect, meet cause.

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