In 1997, Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky had an epiphany: "It occurred to me that the vast, human-altered landscapes that I pursued and photographed for over twenty years were only made possible by the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine. It was then that I began the oil project."
For the next decade Burtynsky set himself to documenting the industrial consequences of our dependence on oil, making epic, oversized images of oil fields, refineries, freeway interchanges, car plants, and scrap yards. The pictures, which are collected in the 2009 book "Oil," are a profound exploration of the effects of the black goo on our lives.
This month, Burtynsky debuts a new addition to this body of work. "Oil Spill," a collection of pictures of shot from a helicopter over the Gulf of Mexico in May, captures the flaming platforms, oil slicks, and chemical dispersants of the BP oil spill. Equal parts disturbing and beautiful, the chromogenic prints will premiere September 16 at Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto, Burtynsky's hometown.
Photos: Nicholas Metivier Gallery