REVIEW — Edward Burtynsky: The Human Signature

By Chris Waywell
TimeOut London


Edward Burtynsky’s new show is dominated by a six-metre-long photograph of a quarry. A massive orange digger sits in the middle, but it looks like a toy in its surroundings. Burtynsky fans’ spidey senses go on high alert: EB is showing us the rape of the earth by man.

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REVIEW – Edward Burtynsky: The Human Signature

By Matthew Rudman
Studio International

In July 2017, construction workers were digging the foundations for a new fire and police station in the town of Thornton, Colorado, when they uncovered something unexpected: the fossilised remains of a triceratops dating back 66m years. “A lot of times these will be ploughed up and they won’t be recognised,” the curator of a local natural history museum said. Humans have been manipulating the natural world since the dawn of civilisation, but the past 100 years has seen an exponential and uncontrolled increase in disruption and destruction of delicately balanced ecosystems and geologies previously undisturbed for millions of years. We are all-too familiar with the consequences: crumbling ice caps, bleached coral reefs and rising sea levels threatening to engulf our settlements with acidified water.

In the mid-20th century, hundreds of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests were conducted, coating the Earth in a thin layer of radioactive particles. Many scientists are proposing using this layer of toxic dust as the indelible signature of a new geological age, the Anthropocene, an era defined by the impact of humanity on the Earth’s ecology. Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky (b1955) has long been preoccupied with the troubled intersection of human industry and natural ecosystems, and his most recent output, The Human Signature, on show at the Flowers Gallery, London, is part of his recently launched Anthropocene project, which explores the various manifestations of human mark-making on our planet.

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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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The Human Signature: Edward Burtynsky's Anthropocene – in pictures

The Guardian

Burtynsky’s unsettling large-scale images of industrial-scale extraction, urbanisation and deforestation reveal humanity’s devastating impact on the planet

The exhibition will run at Flowers Gallery Londonfrom 17 Oct - 24 Nov.

View the gallery here.

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