Professor C. Monteith
August 9, 2012
Edward Burtynsky: Oil From Birth to Death
Edward Burtynsky was born in 1955 in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, and a graduate from Ryerson University holding a Bachelor of Applied Arts and studied Graphic Art at Niagara College in Welland. His photographic art interests stem from the sites and images of the General Motors plant in his hometown and he inspiration holds a link between industry and nature. Edward Burtynsky states “nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to interact with a contemporary view of the great ages of man…To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning.” Burtynsky is an artist who looks to photograph the dilemma of our society and depict the metaphors (Burtynsky). Travelling across the world, taking photos and exhibiting them is not the only thing that Burtynsky does. He hosts public lectures about his work and has written a book and has completed film projects (Laurence). His works under his collection “Oil” fit what he looks as “nature transformed through industry” perfectly. He chooses to photograph his oil and its effects in series of a map form, starting with the extraction and then how we use it, in cities and cars, and gathering around vehicles to celebrate. Finally the idea of the end of oil, where our parts of cars, and helicopters end up, where all the things made and that use oil end up (TED). Burtynsky’s series on oil informs the viewer and leaves the viewer questioning.
Burtynsky uses his images to inform the public, something that most of what oil executive would prefer were not seen, such as Alberta Oil Sands #1. As Robin Laurence (2009) states “the list is long and the chances are good that you’ve seen-at least in reproduction- one of Edward Burtynsky’s large-scale, highly detail, and visually astounding photographs… His theme is the impact humanity is having...