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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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.

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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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Edward Burtynsky: 2018 winner of Master of Photography – in pictures

By Matt Fidler
The Guardian

The Photo London Master of Photography award is given annually to a leading contemporary photographer. A special exhibition shows new and rarely seen images from Burtynsky’s portfolio including a preview of his new work, Anthropocene, and explores the complexities of modern existence and diverse subjects such as Australian and Canadian mines, oil bunkering and sawmills in Nigeria, the salt pans of India and sprawling cityscapes

  • Burtynsky will speak at Photo London on 17 May at 5.30pm. Tickets will be available via the Photo London website 

View the full image gallery here

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Edward Burtynsky and a bigger Discoveries section at Photo London 2018

By Diane Smyth
British Journal of Photography 

Photo London is back at Somerset House from 17-20 May, with an exhibition of Edward Burtynsky's new work and 22 galleries in the Discoveries emerging showcase.

He’s currently working on a five-year project on the Anthropocene – the proposed name for our current geological age, an age on which human activity has had a profound and still ultimately unknown impact. A multidisciplinary initiative with long-term collaborators Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencie, Anthropocene includes images showing urbanisation, urbanisation, industrialisation and mining, from oil bunkering and sawmills in Nigeria to the salt mines of the Ural Mountains.

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