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Edward Burtynsky’s Oil

What vintage airplanes have to do with Chinese bridges and tire retirement.

As we revisit the Gulf oil spill on its first anniversary, its gruesome and deep-running consequences are more uncomfortably palpable than ever. And no one exposes the underbelly of this oil economy more viscerally than environmental photographer Edward Burtynsky. In his 2009 book, Oil, he explores the scale and reach of these politicized resourced through a decade’s worth of images from the world’s largest oil fields, refineries, auto plants and freeway interchanges.

State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) oilfields, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006
Image: Edward Burtynsky /Courtesy HASTD HUNT KRAEUTLER, New York / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto
Nanpu Bridge interchange, Shanghai, China, 2004
Image: Edward Burtynsky /Courtesy HASTD HUNT KRAEUTLER, New York / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto
Alberta oil sands, Fort McMurray, Alberta, 2007
Image: Edward Burtynsky /Courtesy HASTD HUNT KRAEUTLER, New York / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto
Oxford tire pile, Westley, California, USA, 1999
Image: Edward Burtynsky /Courtesy HASTD HUNT KRAEUTLER, New York / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto
Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Centre (AMARC), Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, 2006
Image: Edward Burtynsky /Courtesy HASTD HUNT KRAEUTLER, New York / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

Images via The Guardian

In 1997 I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany. It occurred to me that all the vast, man-altered landscapes I had been in pursuit of for over 20 years were all possible because of the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine.” ~ Edward Burtynsky

Burtynsky offers a fascinating closer look at the Oil project in this short but powerful 2009 TED talk:

Gripping and post-apocalyptic, the images in Oil reveal many facets of our petroleum lust with unprecedented breadth, depth and intimacy.


Published April 25, 2011

https://www.brainpickings.org/2011/04/25/edward-burtynsky-oil/

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