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on June 7, 2003
In 2002, I first noticed Edward Burtynsky's gorgeous 40 x 50-inch color prints at the AIPAD conference in New York. To me, Burtynsky's work stood out from all the rest in that immense exposition, which annually showcases international photography galleries. I hoped his gifts would receive appropriate recognition. I didn't realize the degree to which his reputation as a master photographer was already well established by museums, collectors and critics. Since 1985, the Charles Cowles Gallery has represented his work in New York and the Mira Godard Gallery, one of Canada's most prestigious galleries, represents him in Toronto where he is based. So I am now delighted to report that Yale University Press' handsome catalogue from his recent retrospective exhibition in Ottawa is a remarkable accomplishment in every respect. The National Gallery of Canada organized the show and co-published the book. Although the 64 color plates do not deliver what I love most about seeing his work in person - that is simply not possible to achieve in small-scale, half-tone reproduction. The fact is that this book's design and color plates are wonderful. Every aspect of this book is highly accomplished and carefully, thoughtfully considered. Assistant Curator of Photographs, Lori Pauli, deserves special recognition, firstly as editor for selecting top professionals and for coordinating their efforts seamlesslessly. Secondly, Pauli also wrote a scholarly, insightful essay that sets the tone for engaging inquiry and discourse that is maintained by a distinguished panel of co-authors, each with a different approach, including Mark Haworth-Booth, Kenneth Baker and an interview of the artist by Michael Torosian. Their different perspectives should satisfy many questions that might arise for the reader who wants a broad social context without losing a sense of personal connection concerning aesthetics or individuating details about Burtynsky himself. He grew up in southern Ontario, Canada's most populous and richest province. Much of Ontario's wealth comes out of the ground itself and even more significantly, comes out of manufacturing industries, particularly auto plants. Mining and heavy industry are major themes in his site selection both close to home and far away. He traveled half way around the world for some locations. Burtynsky's beautiful art of otherwise terribly distressed places is absolutely authentic, warmly human and almost always immediately engaging. The reader learns that there is neither pretense nor opportunism in Burtynsky's choice of site selection and content. His deliberate ideological detachment also distances him from the controversy and rancor that often accompanies polemical discourse. However, his personal connection with his sites is another matter. Burtynsky reveals his distinctly individual sense of place in almost all of these man-altered landscapes. Considerable skill, intelligence, time, and expense were devoted to every composition. He certainly did not need to work this hard to simply provide compelling evidence of the consequences of large-scale exploitation of natural resources. The color reproductions are only a small fraction of the size of the original photographs but they still illustrate his career-long attraction to detail and immense, complex space. He understands color, light and large-scale abstract composition like few others in his medium. In fact, I believe that he could make anything appear beautiful anywhere -- and yet he doesn't. At the exclusion of everything else Burtynsky chooses places transformed by human desires - including his own - for commerce and comfort. His pictures of mine sites, quarries, oil rigs and rusting steel can truly astonish the viewer for their visceral impact. They convincingly demonstrate decades of demanding study, persistence, experiment and high critical standards but his conflicted passion for his sites is a separate, far more complicated matter that for the most part remains undisclosed. As a fellow large format photographer and colorist, I can attest that there is nothing he takes on to photograph that is simple or easy. Tripod-mounted view cameras are cumbersome tools to use, especially outdoors at the mercy of ever changing natural light conditions as well as the unavoidable and unexpected shifts in weather. It is slow, complex, painfully deliberate work in conditions that are always unpredictable and often physically uncomfortable. Burtynsky makes it look easy - it isn't. Ian Hunt, the designer, also hides his craft. His design reveals wise William of Occham's razor, keen balance and restraint. It is what only the very best design can demonstrate. This is certainly a book worthy of collectors but it is accessible for us all. It showcases an artist about whom we shall hear many more richly deserved accolades in the years ahead. There will definitely be more books about Edward Burtynsky, but Manufactured Landscapes will be difficult to surpass.
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on July 26, 2007
I am a great admirer of Edward Burtynsky - and I will not hide my dissapointment with the book. I've seen an exibition "Manufactured Landscapes" twice, and have to say that reproductions in the album are of a poor quality, not to mention that at least in this particular case size does really matter...

The album is good to have a general idea about the author, his work and his workshop (nice introduction, and interview with Edward Burtynsky - that's what I've missed from the exibitions) but if you haven't seen full-size prints before, do not buy this book - otherwise it might spoil your opinion about one of the best photographers ever...
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HALL OF FAMEon November 17, 2003
Edward Burtynsky surely has a keen eye for unnatural landscapes and features that have been scarred by man, and his stunning and thought-provoking photos of such matters are the focus of this book. Despite Lori Pauli's introduction, not to mention the very title of the book, I don't buy the claims that Burtynsky was dedicated to the relationship between man and nature, or is always on the lookout for "manufactured landscapes." This is certainly true for his shots of railroad cuts up and down huge mountains where they surely don't belong, indicating a desire for conquest by railroad engineers. However, I find much of Burtynsky's work, at least as presented here, to be about devastation and ruination of both the environment's health and its scenic aspects. This is most evident in his terrifying shots of uranium and other heavy metal pollution around lakes in Ontario, the bizarrely angular destruction at marble and granite mines, and the strange operations at a supertanker graveyard in Bangladesh. The main problem with this volume is that is generally meager in its offerings, and Burtynsky's shots are often presented in a disappointingly small size. Thus this book can be best seen as an incentive to explore Burtynsky's work further. [~doomsdayer520~]
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on April 8, 2009
To enjoy the images by Edward Burtynsky as they are meant to be seen would be to go to one of his exhibitions, it is out of the question to expect a book to hold the same weight as seeing the photos in person.
I brought this book for the contextual information that it holds and I was not disappointed. It is important when studying an artists work to read what is written about it as well as viewing the images. The book contains many high quality colour images of Burtynskys work and also a large amount of written material that is well worth the read.
An excellent addition to my library.
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on January 28, 2016
Absolutely incredible views of man made changes to the planet earth. The interior industrial shots are my favorite, followed by the dump, mining and then the quarry pictures. This fantastic book goes next to my photo books of Hilla and Bernd Becher
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on April 7, 2011
Edward Burtynsky's approach to photography in Manufactured Landscapes is not to celebrate or damn his subject but rather depict it in a way that says, "This is what it is". By not stating what viewers "should" see in his work Burtynsky allows them to see things that, wouldn't be as available if the photograph was identified with a certain political agenda. Images of children knee deep in oil show how desperate we are for oil and the lengths we are going to get it. He is not pointing the finger at specific companies but rather stating that this is the problem we are all facing as a human race. The openness of his method leaves the responsibility to change with the viewer and actually motivates action.
Burtynsky's recent photographs have been about peak oil, the urbanization of China and rock quarry mining. The photographs are an interesting balance of attraction and repulsion. The colors and tonal ranges and sheer beauty of his work attract a closer look leading to the realization that the scene has been caused by humans "disrupting the landscape in pursuit of progress". This book is a good example of how reproductions can be limiting to fine art. The book feels muted compared to Burtynsky's prints. Half of what attracts me to his work is the precise craftsmanship and fine detail.
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on December 31, 2008
If you like crystal clear, razor-sharp images full of rich detail that only large format photography provides, you'll like this book. You'll like it even more if you appreciate the subject matter -- urban, industrial subjects that you wouldn't expect to be "picturesque"... But with Burtynsky's eye and the magic of LF, you'll find an interesting combination of artistry, the "omigosh" effect, and a ponderous implicit social comment all wrapped up into one. These are not snapshots; they're carefully planned & executed at great cost and trouble -- that's LF. But the results are impressive and the images are not easily forgotten.

I was introduced to this photographer by fellow large format shooter, Tom Paiva, who is understandably inspired by Burtynsky; Tom shoots industrial subjects at night. I have this book and "Burtynsky - China", both of which contributed the still images to the *most excellent* DVD, "Manufactured Landscapes". If you like the book, get the DVD!
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on May 5, 2013
Being a landscape photographer and the owner of a large collection of photobooks, it takes more than super saturated imagery and cheap photoshop effects to impress me. This book however has managed to do exactly that. Everything from Edward Burtynsky's stunning depictions of the industrial landscape to the print quality and overall layout and presentation is perfect. If you are looking to add a high quality landscape photography book to your collection then look no further.
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on March 16, 2006
the reproductions in the book were awful. i had seen his exhibition and purchased th e book because of it. the reproductions were not any where up to the originals. i am a photographer and the book is useless to me.

ronald meyerson
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on June 7, 2007
I discovered Ed Burtynsky by chance when waiting for my dentist...

It was a chock : over its technical knowledge, this guy is capable to find the perfect angle to show what he wants to show !

as we say in France "respect !"
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