The film Manufactured Landscapes documents the travels and work of photographer Edward Burtynsky. Mr. Burtynsky has made a career out of finding landscapes and scenes that are decidedly industrial; places where human innovation has completely taken over the natural landscape.
The film is shot beautifully itself, documenting many of the same landscapes and scenes that Burtynsky does in his photographs. The film not only assesses the work of Burtynsky’s photography, but also of what it would be like to live, work and exist in these spaces. There are numerous characters throughout these factories, waste dumps and the like that the viewer cannot help but attach themselves to.
The film presents these scenarios as Burtynsky does himself, with vivid color, high contrast and an odd beauty, but it also does not shy away from the harsh realities of an industrialized world. The environment is in decay, and this photographer is documenting ground zero. Because of this, the film also has a melancholy feel, and a sense of the ominous. These feelings are also present in Burtynsky’s work, which often feels rather dystopian and cold, despite the vivid colors.
The film gave me an appreciation for the work that Burtynsky does as a photographer, but also made me think more about the effects I have on the world and the environment. Through beauty, a lesson. And really, that is what makes these photographs transcend mere documentary and into the realm of high art.
These images that I have created come from three different settings, but I see them as a series, relating to my takeaways from the film. The first image is an overlook of a grocery store, as reminiscent of Burtynsky’s work as I was able to create. The second is a dumpster behind a fast food restaurant. The third is a picture of my own home, devoid of any sort of nature, obviously. I wanted to include something personal to relate how the film made me think about my own impact on the world I live in.