Photographer Edward Burtynsky’s new show focuses on environmental challenges ‘on our doorstep’ – Low Calorie Diets Tips

At the beginning of his career as a photographer and artist Edward Burtynsky saw the opportunity to dedicate his life’s work to a single idea: humanity’s impact on the planet.

In the 1980s, Burtynsky saw the growing sustainability challenges presented by the combination of heavy industry and billions of people.

His work eventually took him around the world – and garnered numerous awards and accolades – as he chronicled how humanity is reshaping the earth through resource extraction, urban sprawl and manufacturing, to name a few.

Edward Burtynsky (photo by Birgit Kleber)

“I became an observer of human existence at the industrial level — building cities and transportation systems, making clothes and all that stuff,” says Burtynsky. “There is a completely different world that we don’t see.

“I thought the camera would be the perfect tool to bring that world into our consciousness.”

Over the years, Burtynsky — who received an honorary degree from U of T in 2017 and the Natural Curiosity Environmental Education program at Dr. Jackman Institute of Child Study of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education sponsored – several documentaries and photo exhibitions on the topic of environment produces threats.

But in his latest show with the Luminato Festival, he ventures into a new medium.

In the spirit of progress premiered on the giant screens around Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square during the festival’s opening weekend. Next, the play will be transformed into an immersive, ticketed indoor experience at the Canadian Opera Company Theater from June 25 to July 17.

Inside the theater, the 22-minute play is presented through images and films on 30-foot screens. It is produced by Canadian music “superproducer” Bob Ezrin, who helped produce Pink Floyd The wall among other classic albums – and includes an original score by award-winning composer and sound designer Phil Strong.

There will also be a curated gallery of photographs and high-resolution murals, two augmented reality experiences exploring the impact and legacy of the internal combustion engine, and a “Change Station” where audiences grapple with the question, “What can do I do now? ”

Burtynsky wants people to leave his work behind and think deeply and emotionally about humanity’s powerful impact on the planet.

“The story is all about what we’re doing to nature, how our success is pushing back biodiversity,” he says. “It’s changing the nature of the oceans – we watch corals die, we watch fisheries collapse.”

“We see all sorts of problems – deforestation, desertification, droughts, storms, heat domes. 30 years ago you could say climate change was something out there. We can’t dismiss that now. It’s on our doorstep.”

Burtynsky went to great lengths to capture his thought-provoking artwork.

“What it looks like, the time of year, the light – all of that plays a very important role,” he says. “I go back to a place four or five times under different lighting conditions.”

Sometimes it takes years before he gains access to a place. When he and his team wanted to travel to Norilsk in the Russian High Arctic – the location of the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer – they encountered fierce resistance.

“It’s been billed as one of the most polluted cities in the world,” he says. “They said, ‘There’s only one story you want to go into and do, and that’s a pollution story.’

“We spent a year trying to convince them otherwise. We came in but they still didn’t trust us. We were constantly being arrested and taken to immigration or police offices.”

Burtynsky has always been determined to find a way in.

“I’ve always held onto my guns. Our work is insightful, not accusatory. We want to show the world these large format things,” he says.

When not documenting from the ground, Burtynsky flies in a helicopter to capture breathtaking landscapes from above. Through decades of experience, he has learned how to deal with the roaring plane – often using his headset, he instructs the pilot to find the right position for taking photos.

“I try to make the images look like I have my old-fashioned camera on a tripod, but I’m actually hopping in a helicopter, shooting at high shutter speeds and trying to compose in motion. At the end of the day it feels like it was a consistent, considered and very composed shot.”

For an artist who has spent 40 years of his career highlighting humanity’s myriad negative impacts on the planet, he remains optimistic.

“[Climate change] seems high on everyone’s agenda,” he says. “U of T is doing a great job on geothermal energy and moving away from fossil fuels in their funds.

Burtynsky says he wants people to leave his job and think deeply and emotionally about humanity’s powerful impact on the planet (photo by Jim Panou)

“The high fuel price, as much as it hurts, will give us a strong motivation to slow down. These changes never come without pain. Once we get the economics right, change happens quickly.”

Born in St. Catharines, Ontario, Burtynsky was exposed to industrial facilities early in life. The General Motors plant in his hometown sparked his interest in capturing the impact of the industry.

His many awards include Officer of the Order of Canada, Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, and eight honorary doctorates – including one from the University of T, which recognized him for his impact on society through his focus on environmental issues. He also received an Arbor Award from the U of T in 2014 for his involvement in Dr. Jackman Institute of Child Study, and there is an award in his name that honors three educators across Canada each year for excellence in environmental education.

Burtynsky hopes his new show will appeal to college students in particular.

“I hope it makes a conversation easier. If you touch them emotionally, they think differently,” he says. “It’s a universal story that begins with nature and ends with nature.”

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