Have you ever looked at a picture of smoke coming out of factory pipes or tons of plastic waste in the ocean and felt your heart breaking? There are so many things on this planet that humans take for granted. We pollute air, water, and land, causing climate change and thinking there is some magic cleaner that will tidy after us.
It’s not the talk of aesthetic beauty, it’s the talk of whether life on Earth will survive if we continue destroying our relatively small eco-system. As a lot of people stop sleeping on this topic, they get to action, and people of art aren’t at all an exception.
One particular person that caught my attention recently is Edward Burtynsky, a photographer from Canada, who captures our lands from high above.
His shots look like works of contemporary art (well, they are, after all), maybe impressionism, making you look for the smallest details. But after seeing the pictures, you get a pretty good understanding just how badly we have damaged our home already.
In his works the photographer shows what deforestation and mining look like, he pictures how mountains get competitors made of plastic, rubber, and industrial waste. He shows overpopulation at its best, making humans look like grains of sand. The photographs are rich with colors and may please our eyes before we get to the details of what’s depicted.
The New Age of Anthropocene
Anthropocene is the name of our age in geological terms – the age of human activity and its consequences. The idea was brought up by Paul Josef Crutzen, a Dutch atmospheric chemist. He made a tremendous contribution to the global climate change research and got a Nobel Prize for it. He introduces the late 18th century as the start of Anthropocene, the time of the invention of the steam engine. Global climate has undergone dramatic changes since that time.
As a part of a new multimedia project to popularize the term, Burtynsky went on a 5-year journey, visiting 20 countries and taking pictures. He saw the dead lands that can’t be restored and made a conclusion that we are becoming a much greater danger than we might think.
According to his message, artists can make these issues more understandable and accessible to people. Scientists do tremendous amounts of work on climate change, but they rarely can get regular people into the real state of affairs.
This is where people like Burtynsky come in, showing us the whole picture (literally) of all the damage we’ve done, a bomb that can detonate anytime now.