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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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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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CELEBRATING PHOTOGRAPHIC ICONS

By Sarah Straussberg 
Sarahstraussberg.com

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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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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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 

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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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