Due to the influence of ecological thinking, our perception of nature is currently tinged with a profound sense of unease. The works brought together in this section all highlight the fragility of the environment. The artists who made them demonstrate a commitment to generating awareness and showing, among other things, how the landscape around us has become a site of unprecedented catastrophes and disasters. They therefore directly or indirectly deal with the question of climate change and present, in a thoroughly convincing manner, the potential for improvement that resides in individual action.
Due to the influence of ecological thinking, our perception of nature is currently tinged with a profound sense of unease. The works brought together in this section all highlight the fragility of the environment. The artists who made them demonstrate a commitment to generating awareness and showing, among other things, how the landscape around us has become a site of unprecedented catastrophes and disasters. They therefore directly or indirectly deal with the question of climate change and present, in a thoroughly convincing manner, the potential for improvement that resides in individual action.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

<i>China Recycling #9</i>

Circuit Boards, Guiyu,

Guangdong Province



Chromogenic colour prints

Edward Burtynsky
2004
© Edward Burtynsky


<i>China Recycling #24</i>

Circuit Boards, Guiyu,

Cankun Aluminum, Xiamen City, Fujian Province, 2005



Chromogenic colour prints

Edward Burtynsky
2004
© Edward Burtynsky


Running through the entire body of Edward Burtynsky’s work is the idea that landscape is a human construct. The artist shows us the paradox of a world which, though despoiled by industrialization, yields pictures that are akin to the painterly sublime. To make these pictures, the artist gains access to off-limits sites and often has to deal with highly polluted environments in extreme climatic conditions. He makes use of extensive documentation to prepare for his expeditions, and is just as likely to consult a novel as government reports or local weather data. His research enables him to study what will eventually guide his camera and be shown to his audience.

In a recent series titled China, Burtynsky casts his gaze at dumps holding discarded electric and electronic equipment. These sites are currently a hot issue in China, and one that the country, as the main destination for garbage of this type, has to contend with on a daily basis. While people in the West engage in recycling for ecological reasons, the Chinese do so out of financial need, picking through outdated equipment for parts that can be reused or resold but without taking into account the to Read More
Running through the entire body of Edward Burtynsky’s work is the idea that landscape is a human construct. The artist shows us the paradox of a world which, though despoiled by industrialization, yields pictures that are akin to the painterly sublime. To make these pictures, the artist gains access to off-limits sites and often has to deal with highly polluted environments in extreme climatic conditions. He makes use of extensive documentation to prepare for his expeditions, and is just as likely to consult a novel as government reports or local weather data. His research enables him to study what will eventually guide his camera and be shown to his audience.

In a recent series titled China, Burtynsky casts his gaze at dumps holding discarded electric and electronic equipment. These sites are currently a hot issue in China, and one that the country, as the main destination for garbage of this type, has to contend with on a daily basis. While people in the West engage in recycling for ecological reasons, the Chinese do so out of financial need, picking through outdated equipment for parts that can be reused or resold but without taking into account the toxic waste thereby released into the environment.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Exploring the Residual Landscape

Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon and so on. To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning. Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.

These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire - a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.

Published text on the artist's website www.edwardburtynsky.com
Exploring the Residual Landscape

Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon and so on. To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning. Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.

These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire - a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.

Published text on the artist's website www.edwardburtynsky.com

© Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Ryerson University in Toronto, was born in Saint Catharines, Ontario, to a Ukrainian family. He is one of the key figures in a new generation of Canadian photographers whose art reflects a profound concern with the state of the environment. His works have been shown in Canada and abroad, and can be found in numerous major collections.

www.edwardburtynsky.com

www.worldchanging.com

selected exhibitions
2007 Edward Burtynsky: The China Series (touring exhibition), Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem (United States) [David Brown, curator] 2006 Made in China, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (United States) 2003 Manufactured Landscapes: Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (Ontario) 2000 Visions and Views: The Architecture of Borromini in the Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal (Québec)
Edward Burtynsky, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Ryerson University in Toronto, was born in Saint Catharines, Ontario, to a Ukrainian family. He is one of the key figures in a new generation of Canadian photographers whose art reflects a profound concern with the state of the environment. His works have been shown in Canada and abroad, and can be found in numerous major collections.

www.edwardburtynsky.com

www.worldchanging.com

selected exhibitions
  • 2007 Edward Burtynsky: The China Series (touring exhibition), Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem (United States) [David Brown, curator]
  • 2006 Made in China, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (United States)
  • 2003 Manufactured Landscapes: Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (Ontario)
  • 2000 Visions and Views: The Architecture of Borromini in the Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal (Québec)

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

DEEE - discarded electric and electronic equipment

The volume of such equipment, discarded because it is considered outmoded or obsolete, has continued to increase since the start of the digital age. It is estimated that 80% of electronic waste materials are thrown into the sea. As for the rest, 90% makes its way to dumps in China, where the waste disposal industry is not regulated.
DEEE - discarded electric and electronic equipment

The volume of such equipment, discarded because it is considered outmoded or obsolete, has continued to increase since the start of the digital age. It is estimated that 80% of electronic waste materials are thrown into the sea. As for the rest, 90% makes its way to dumps in China, where the waste disposal industry is not regulated.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • demonstrate an understanding of how science and art can be linked;
  • try to explain the state of mind of the artist when he made this art piece.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans