Manufactured Landscapes

manufacturedlandscapes.photo05.jpg Vast factories… Teeming life
Goes up in smoke,
Toxic rivers, red as blood,
Sweat and tears.
One man’s waste
Is another’s chore.
Oil drilled until no more.
A smog that never lifts,
Assembly-line calloused fingers.
Beautiful boxes of trash,
Toxic fumes, workers abash
Yet unheeding of deathly concerns.
Black black piles, among the ruins
One lone woman knits as
Urbanization sprawls.
Decrepit oil tankers,
Crude, up to their knees,
Dangerous work.
My leisure, gone global.
Dam, oil sucks.

These are my thoughts after watching Manufactured Landscapes, a stunning documentary film and Winner of Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival based on the work of artist Edward Burtynsky.

“…”manufactured landscapes"—quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams—Burtynsky creates stunningly beautiful art from civilization’s materials and debris."

“If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves. I believe that as a fundamental philosophical position…” – Burtynsky

In Manufactured Landscapes, environmental destruction is turned abnormally beautiful, leaving viewers like myself aghast at my own wasteful society and disturbed landscapes. From urbanization, to peak oil, to downright ghastly working conditions, Burtynsky lays bare our troubled energy monger society in beautiful ‘as is’ fashion.

As Burtynsky says near the end of the film:
“I think many people sit in that uncomfortable spot where we don’t necessarily want to give up what we have, but we realize that what we are doing is creating problems that run deep. It’s not a simple right or wrong… it needs a whole new way of thinking.”

I highly recommend the film, available via iTunes.

“Maybe the new landscape of our time… is the landscape that we change… the one that we disrupt in the pursuit of progress.” – Burtynsky

Image: Shipbreaking # 4", Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2000
Photo: Edward Burtynsky