This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – Anthropocene, an expansive and immersive multimedia exhibition opens in Canada featuring the work of Edward Burtynsky (above), plus Getty Reportage Grant winners 2018.
I’m not surprised that Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is involved in a groundbreaking, multimedia exhibition, Anthropocene, which opens today in Ottawa. I first interviewed Burtynsky back in 2008 when he was in Australia for FotoFreo.
Burtynsky’s photographs are at once beautiful and terrifying, capturing the poisonous touch of human industry on the earth. His epic – in scale and visual mastery – aerial images of Western Australia’s mines spoke both to my heart as a photographer, and also as someone concerned about the havoc we are wreaking on the environment.
Back in 2008 he was testing the boundaries of aerial photography, shooting from choppers 400 metres off the ground to ensure he didn’t “lose perspective on man’s impact on the landscape”. Today he is at the cutting edge working with drone technology as well as digital cameras.
His work in Anthropocene represents his continued passion to tell these important stories; our impact on the planet is a subject that has held Burtynsky’s interest over four decades.
The Anthropocene is considered the new geological epoch in which human activity is the dominant influence on the environment. Anthropocene, the multimedia exhibition, was four years in the making and saw Burtynksy collaborate with award-wining filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. Burtynsky’s large-scale mural photographs are exhibited alongside both film and augmented reality (AR) installations by Baichwal and de Pencier, creating an immersive experience for the visitor.
There is also a dedicated mobile app which visitors can use on their mobile phones. The app triggers the AR installations that include a near-to-scale rendering of “Big Lonely Doug”, Canada’s second largest Douglas Fir tree, which measures 66 metres in height and 12 metres in circumference, with a canopy spread of 18.3 metres – that’s a giant tree! When triggered by the app, the AR installation of this 1,000-year-old tree towers over visitors as they make their way to the entrance of the exhibition.
Visitors to the show will also be able to access an interactive film wall displaying nine short clips by Baichwal and de Pencier depicting diverse subjects such as the huge landfill site in Nairobi, Kenya, a seemingly endless procession of coal trains in Wyoming, and coral bleaching in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Film extensions by Baichwal and de Pencier are also triggered through the app to complement wall-sized, high-resolution photographic murals by Burtynsky.
Once inside the show, again through the app, visitors come face-to-face with a detailed 3D image of Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros who died in March 2018 at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The app also enables visitors, using their smartphone or tablet, to walk around a third AR installation – a near-to-scale experience of the largest pile of elephant ivory, poached from between 6,000 and 7,000 elephants, which was set on fire at Nairobi National Park in Kenya on April 30, 2016.
The exhibition is part of a larger project which includes the documentary film, ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch, which had its world premiere at TIFF ’18 and made its Ottawa premiere at the National Gallery of Canada yesterday. There is also an art book published by Steidl.
The exhibition is based on the research of the Anthropocene Working Group, an international organisation of scientists working to determine whether the Earth has left the Holocene and entered a new geological epoch ― the Anthropocene.
Anthropocene 28 September 2018 – 25 February 2019
The National Gallery of Canada 380 Sussex Dr, ON K1N 9N4 Ottawa, Canada
Getty Reportage Grants 2018
And the winners are:
Rose Marie Cromwell for King of Fish, which aims to bring attention to the effects of rapid globalisation on small communities, focusing on the community of Coco Solo in Panama specifically.
Giulio Di Sturco for Aerotropolis, The Way we Will Live Next, a body of work which explores the rise of post-modern cities.
Leonard Pongo for The Uncanny, which captures daily life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.