THE LONG VIEW - Edward Burtynsky’s quest to photograph a changing planet.

By Raffi Khatchadourian
The New Yorker

Our helicopter was heading over the Niger Delta, across a vast and unstable sky, with gray clouds surging above. I was sitting behind the pilot, and behind me, gazing out a starboard window, was Edward Burtynsky, a Canadian photographer known for his sweeping images of industrial projects and their effects on the environment. For three decades, he has been documenting colossal mines, quarries, dams, roadways, factories, and trash piles—telling a story, frame by frame, of a planet reshaped by human ambition. For one seminal project, sixteen years ago, he travelled to Bangladesh to shoot decommissioned oil tankers that were being ripped apart by barefoot men with cutting torches. Those images of monumental debris—angular masses that appear to emerge from sediment like alien geology—remain transfixing. Carefully choreographed, shot in hazy and ethereal light, they echo the sublime power of a Turner landscape even as they portray a reckoning with garbage.

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