//Ad libs: From photo to film

Friday, July 06, 2007

From photo to film

It sounds strange to say that my favorite-ever Cantor Arts Center exhibit featured photos of old tires and copper mines. But that's art. You never know what you'll end up transfixed by.

About two years ago, Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky brought an exhibit called "Manufactured Landscapes" to the Cantor. In it, he explored the industrial impacts that humans have on the Earth. As I wrote in the Weekly, the photos showed "bright teal pools at the bottom of copper mines, sparkling silver oil-refinery pipes, and a red river of iron discarded from a nickel mine running like tomato soup across an Ontario field."

Strange beauty, almost otherworldly. I think I liked the photos so much because they revealed a world that white-collar me might never see. And in it they found remarkable glints of elegance and visual poetry.

Now there's a documentary film about Burtynsky and his work opening July 20. Also called "Manufactured Landscapes," it follows the photographer traveling through China and documenting "the evidence and effects of that country's massive industrial revolution," as a press release states.

So far, it seems that the film is coming only to the Lumiere Theatre in San Francisco and Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley. But maybe that will change. In any event, for me it's well worth the drive.

Pictured: The DVD cover for the film shows the Edward Burtynsky photo "Nickel Tailings #34, Sudbury, Ontario" (left panel).