Manufactured Landscapes

Manufactured Lanscapes

For a while now, I’ve been hearing about this incredible documentary that follows Canadian landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky as he embarks on a tour through China. And though I still haven’t been able to see it (it’s not being screened in Germany yet and is only in a handful of places in the US), I intend to make “Manufactured Landscapes” one of the priorities for my trip back to the US next week.

Burtynsky, who I’d never heard of until this movie, is an award-winning photographer who documents the impact of the unsustainable contemporary Western lifestyle on the rest of the world by snapping photos of quarries, mines, and recycling dumps. It’s frightening and humbling to see pictures like these (run-off from a nickel mine in Canada):

The movie, I imagine, will likewise be frightening and humbling as it follows Burtynsky through China as he takes photos of the Three Gorges Dam project, the shaping of modernity in major cities, and the dormitory housing of factory workers. To help offset the straitjacket feeling I’m sure I’ll have afterwards, though, I’ve also been checking out the World Changing website, one of Burtynksy’s projects, to see about all the good there is left to do in the world. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but from the looks of things, this may be an incredible statement that inspires me to do more, which makes its limited release a bit frustrating. I’m curious, though … Have any of you seen this flick yet? Any thoughts on the importance of its role?