EBurtynsky Pivot Irr AZ

This is a pivot irrigation system near a suburb south of Yuma Arizona.  Nice composition and colour.

When people build things to do a job, fill a need, make some money, their last thought is ever ending up in an art show.  But the truth is, like it or not, the visual effect of human intervention on the landscape is often stunningly beautiful.

Ed Burtynsky Greenhouses Spain

These are greenhouses in the Almira Peninsula in Spain 2010.  Muy Bonito–tight but dynamic structure, plus subtle colour and texture variation.

Of course the beauty of these interventions comes at a price, and sometimes that price is very high: a lasting stain on the canvas we all inhabit, or worse, a fatal infection of some irreplaceable part of what keeps us alive.

Edward Burtynsky Water Baja

Above is Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station, Baja Mexico, 2012.  As an image, it has a hyper-electric, saturated intensity.  As a piece of evidence, it is deeply disturbing.

All three photographs above by Edward Burtynsky whose work can be viewed here  and here

 

Louis Helbig stelcosteelmillo2

Stelco Steel Mill Nanticoke Ontario.  When a gifted, technically super photographer takes on the job of showing us who we are and what we are doing, the results can’t help but be both beautiful and alarming.  That’s after all what we are.

louis helbig Residual Bitumen tarpondsb2410061a

Residual Bitumen, Suncor South, Alberta, Canada.  How do we reconcile that this image of a careless (?) industrial after-effect has some of the same aesthetic qualities as the muscular/spiritual abstract paintings we flock to see in modern art museums?

Above aerial photographs by Mr Louis Helbig, based in Ottawa, but flying all over the country.  Look here

 

David Maisel Fall_Borox9_MAISEL

Back to Spain, this time above a Borox field with photographer David Maisel.  These fields, like “a grey sea in a desert” says Mr Maisel, are in a mining and agricultural region of La Mancha.

David Maisel AM_Carlin_NV18_MAISEL

Up next, open pit mines in Nevada on the Carlin Trend, a highly productive gold mining district. The downside is mines from this region are the source of mercury emissions released when ore is heated during refinement. Also shot by David Maisel.

David Maisel 3_TERMINAL_MIRAGE_19

This is one of the edges of Utah’s Great Salt Lake where zones of mineral evaporation ponds lie. Industrial pollution creates haunting other-worldly effects than only the artistic imagination can match. More David Maisel here

 

Mojave night Imperial Sand Dunes

This glowing mound is a portion of the Imperial Sand Dunes in the Colorado Desert Region of Southern California, at night, crawling with recreational vehicles, some of the 1.28 million visitors who visit the area annually.  We know this is not good, but holy crow it looks like an a electric volcano.  Source

 

alex maclean on black iceaerial4

Photographers keep flying over the land and recording the remarkable things we do when we think no one is watching–and the findings are so often both stunning and rattling.  Alex S. MacLean captured this: Motorcycle Racing on Black Ice, as well as the three images that follow.

alex maclean snowmobile tracks ice AB

Here he records snowmobile tracks on ice near industrial sites in Western Canada.

alex Maclean tracks_of_tomatos

Looks like calligraphy. But it’s tomato fields North Central OH, 1990

Alex Maclean tumbler Frosted Fields Souutheastern MA

And this beautiful image is a shot of something probably very very wrong.

Lots of amazing photos by Alex S MacLean on tumbler and his own site

 

Edward Burtynsky Nickel Tailings Sudbury 1996

Above Edward Burtynsky, Nickel mine tailings, Sudbury Ontario 1996, found here

There is a show at the Vancouver Art Gallery just now (May 2014) featuring a fine selection of Edward Burtynsky’s photographs.  We may not be doing him full justice, but we believe he sees and n fact seeks the beauty in the interventions that we the people make on the earth one way or another every day.  His VAG show is called A Terrible Beauty.

Should we feel guilty about finding something poisonous beautiful?  Should we feel guilty in failing to acknowledge the beauty of something clearly dangerous to the earth?  To hold contradictory ideas in the mind was once thought a virtue.  For now, all we can say is: it’s the truth

 

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