Edward Burtynsky is a contemporary photographer whose projects always involve large scale photography with a particular focus on humanity’s impact on the natural world. His previous projects on Oil and Mining capture the extent of the impact of these operations on the landscape, yet also acknowledge that if their cause was unknown then there is a serene beauty to these scenes.
His latest series is on water, and stretches from hydroelectric dams to farming. One circular patch of green shows a large field of crops but its scale is not realised until you spot the sliver of a road at the bottom of the photograph. In other images houses are used to give the viewer a true sense of the scale of this operation. It’s not just Western farming that’s highlighted either as rice terraces in China appear to stretch on forever.
Staying with China are photographs of the Xiaolangdi dam and the sheer force of water that is released when it opens. To the untrained eye it appears as if it has burst and in ensuing photographs a walkway is barely visible as it’s encapsulated in the spray, which has taken on monstrous proportions.
The Colorado river delta branches out like a series of blood vessels while the roofs of endless greenhouses in Spain appear as grey blight on the landscape. Our favourite photograph of the exhibition is a birds eye shot of seemingly endless stairwell in India that, though real, has an almost surreal feel as if it may be an optical illusion.
Burtynsky’s photographs are always impressive and this latest series can easily stand alongside his previous projects as another spectacular portfolio.
Edward Burtynsky: Water is on at Flowers London, 21 Cork St, W1S 3LZ until 23 November. Admission is free.