Industrialize me, baby!
I wanted to write something on Wednesday evening about the movie I saw the same afternoon at the Human Rights Film Festival, but I’ve felt so unstrung and overloaded, because most of my friendz got cold during this week. So, I couldn’t stay simply untouched by this ‘fever’ thing.
(But, you know, sometimes it’s not so bad to get cold, cause you finally have an extra time to watch all ridiculous morning TV shows…)
The movie I saw at the festival is Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary ‘Manufactured Landscapes’ about Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky (well known for his silent and powerful style) on his trip to China and Bangladesh.
Burtynsky is making photographs with large format camera of industrial landscapes… read here his art statement:
’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.’
His way of photographic communication is so honest and brutal at the same time.
Photo by Edward Burtynsky (c)
Basically, he is not talking or explaining anything about the issues he is covering in his work… he is leaving YOU to discover it, completely alone… he is leaving YOU to do your own observations… he is leaving YOU to feel uncomfortable, feeling so small… he is leaving YOU to make your own conclusions… he is leaving YOU to feel changed and empty at the same time.
There is nothing of the classical agony left in his images (so characteristic for 90% of documentary photography today), so your eye and mind could not be prepared visually or semantically to his imagery…
Do it by yourself!, he is proclaiming with his visual meta-language…
But what amazed me completely is how the movie director Jennifer Baichwal precisely and even mathematically followed this whole thing (I’ve felt afterwards the same, as I did after reading for the first time Naomi Klein’s book ‘No Logo’).
Baichwal simply followed his routes silently recording workers during their working shift. Those people do not exist as any normal person would do: having a name… family… future… They are treated less than if they would be just a number on a worn paperboard package.
Jennifer Baichwal: Manufactured Landscapes (c)
People and Landscapes… they are the same…
It’s not about Taijiquan, really beautiful cinematography, wonderful dresses that I like most, the color of jade, stillness of terracotta warriors, Corto Maltese having his latest romance among some fortress walls or the impressive route of Silk Road…