on September 10, 2014
This is the second liquid book from Burtynsky following on from his stunning photo survey of the oil industry published by Steidl in 2009. Both books are the same landscape shape and about the same number of pages. While 'Oil' used photos shot at ground level and just above, 'Water' required a bird's-perspective from a plane to capture the scale of the subject. The book's photos were taken over four yeas and Burtynsky makes an interesting point in his preface: the introduction of high-quality digital camera equipment allowed him to make crisp, sharp images from a moving aircraft, something that wasn't easily done with older analogue film.
Despite oil and water both being liquids they clearly don't mix. The photos in 'Oil' show massive despoiling of the landscape and the visual ugliness of the industry while water from above provides some remarkably abstract looking photos like pivot irrigation systems in the south west of the US, rice growing terraces in China and salt aquaculture in Spain. Oddly the most colorful abstractions are from the highly polluted water: phosphor tailings in Florida; the Colorado River delta in Mexico. Probably the most abstract are the last eight photos in the book revealing the glacial runoff and rivers in Iceland.
The chapter titled 'Waterfront' brings the photos to a more human perspective with shots of homes in Florida's Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and Verona Walk, all them show houses connected by roads and canals (Cape Coral has the largest canal system in the world) and predictably these rapid, sprawling developments create environmental and social problems though the photos don't reveal that except by implication. In less developed India water is revealed as a precious resource, four photos show the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival that can attract a hundred million people over fifty-five days, they all come to bathe in the junction of the Ganges, Yamuna and Sarasvati rivers. India also provides four remarkable photos of stepwells, large deep wells, sort of like inverted pyramids, with sides made up of steps and terraces leading down to the water.
With 112 beautiful photos Burtynsky has managed to capture the impact of water on our world and revealed the ongoing problems we have created with its usage. These problems are detailed in an twenty-eight mini essays (over fourteen pages after the photos) that correspond to the book's sections.
Like the 'Oil' book 'Water' is well produced with a matt art paper for the 175 screen printing and well designed as one would expect from Steidl. It has the minor annoyance though of having the photo captions in the back pages, so expect a lot of page flipping. The book's large landscape shape size allows most photos to be 12.5 by 9.5 inches with one to a page.
on November 9, 2013
What can you say about an artist with such a talent except having the opportunity to enjoy his work time after time. Every picture is a masterpiece with a story that I can glare for hours and hours. This is his best work only if you happen to love water and ocean as much as I do as a surfer. Thjorsa River in Iceland, chromogenic print will go up in my living room. His film Watermark documentary is Burtynsky's will be out soon, can not wait to see water in action. Bravo.
on January 10, 2014
This latest book by Edward Burtynsky is magnificent photographically -- as one would expect from this master -- but it is also powerful and compelling from an environmental perspective. Burtynsky shows us here, in the same way he did in "Oil," the devastation that human greed has wrought on the global environment. However, this time, he also offers us views of great beauty and environmental constructiveness. With the camera as his medium of expression, Burtynsky communicates deep emotional and intellectual lessons about the way we deal with our planet.
on May 31, 2014
This is a beautifully produced book of another important Burtynsky project. Beautiful. Technically brilliant. A sustained, global-spanning project to challenge, poetically, our complacency towards our impact on the landscape, on water and ultimately on ourselves. I hope the book inspires many readers to view the original, large-scale photographs, and see the film also. I am fortunate enough to own one print from this project, and it will have an important, provocative place in my life for many years to come.
on November 27, 2013
Aerial views dominate much of this book, and Burtynsky masterfully uses these vantage points to illustrate the enormity of the impact that this simple substance has on our planet. In colors both vibrant and muted, he has produced a stunning collection of photographs which amount to nothing less than a masterpiece.