Thursday, May 22, 2008

Manufactured Landscapes

I just now finished watching a beautiful and yet disturbing movie.
It was called Manufactured Landscapes (imdb). It is a documentary about the work of a photographer named Edward Burtynsky. (His official website here -warning the browser window will resize).
In a nutshell, Edward photographs man-made landscapes, and industrial settings. From shipyards to cityscapes in China. Some really nice work. At the same time though... the film is disturbing, because you get to see (through the lens of Edward), what sort of destruction WE (humans) can do to the natural landscape. It brings up conflicts in thinking though because on one hand, all those people need a job, and all those people need a place to live, but when conditions are such that these images take place, it can be very horrific and beautiful to look at. One particular shot in the beginning of the film was uterly amazing. It was a slow panning shot of the inside of a factory with workers (mostly standing) along HUGE assembly lines as far as the eye can see. When you think, the camera has panned as far as possible, the building can't be THAT big, it just keeps rolling and rolling. One woman was building some sort of circuit breaker, with about maybe 20 pieces. She was snapping these things together with just a screwdriver. She said she can do about 400 a day! And that she's worked there for 6 years! I just can't imagine.
I can't recommend this movie to everyone, but if you can appreciate the beauty in this then it's worth a rental. If you can stomach the destruction and yet at the same time the creation of product, then also give this movie a rent. Personally, I think every person who has ever thrown away a computer into a landfill, or recycle, should be forced to watch this movie.
I currently have an old computer monitor (that still works) and now a broken microwave sitting by my front door, because I don't want to throw them out. I will be donating the computer monitor to goodwill in the hopes that someone will be able to use it. But the microwave... I fear this is headed into the landfill.
There are times, when I can pull back from it all and I just realize... WE humans are nothing more than a virus on this green and blue earth. We are consuming, destroying our habitat as we go, and we're spreading and multiplying at an ungodly amount. Soon either we will destroy this place called earth, or it will destroy us. Is there such thing as finding a balance, or are we always headed towards this end? Time will tell.

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