Most Canadians believe that ecological pollution only happens in third-world countries or by the occasional oil-tanker running aground. Well, not so. In places like Sudbury, Ontario, thousands of tonnes of toxic waste are pumped continuously from mines, poisoning vast tracks of land. The above image by Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is an example of nickel tailings of which “…the intense reds and oranges are caused by the oxidation of the iron that is left behind in the process of separating nickel and other metals from the ore.” Much land is now uninhabitable and will remain toxic forever. For a complete understanding of the insanity associated with “Industrial Progress” the documentary movie “The Hole Story” is a masterpiece. It can be found on Netfix and elsewhere.
“Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon, and so on. To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning. Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.
These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire – a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.” –Edward Burtynsky