Jennifer Baichwal’s depiction of Edward Burtynsky – a photographer who shows us the path industry weaves through humanity – is a compelling and thought-provoking documentary. Burtynsky’s images can seem as if they are from another world, but he doesn’t fail in capturing the humans that live their lives entwined with the manufacturing phenomenon of the 21st century.
The film opens on his trip to a Chinese part factory. My heart goes out these workers that spend long days completing repetitive tasks under the fluorescence ceilings of massive factories. The operation seems similar to that of a military base. Burtynsky’s photo of the lined up workers in their yellow uniforms was really interesting.
Recycling was another part of manufacturing he focused on. The scrap metal fields were expansive. Workers weaved between sharp debris to collect materials for consumerism across the globe.
The photos in Bangladesh looked animated with vibrant colors of shipyards, as if they were from another world. The oil tankers being cleaned out by children – dangerous, low paid work – was upsetting to see.
The tire photo, with its contours, lead your eye on a path through the photo. Burtynsky’s use of leading lines, patterns, contrast and unique landscapes transport you to another place. Connections of manufacturing throughout humanity is almost overwhelming to conceptualize.
We are sure to see more situations like that of the Yangtze River Dam relocation and demolition of 13 cities. He does a great job of focusing on multiple aspects of human progress, while also hinting at its setbacks – telling the stories of so many along the way. It will be interesting to see how landscapes change throughout the course of the future, as humans continue to dominate their environments.
Here are a few images I felt inspired to capture at the Monongahela Wharf Parking Garage after watching this documentary:
F-Stop – f/4.5, Exposure – 1/125, ISO – 200
F-Stop – f/5.6, Exposure – 1/125, ISO – 200
F-Stop – f/5.6, Exposure – 1/100, ISO – 200