June - September 2005 The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford hosted an exhibition of the photographs of Edward Burtynsky.
To accompany this we built a web site that would let visitors (personal or digital) study and comment on the pictures.
Burtynsky works in large format - the pictures are up to 5 feet across. His subjects are environmental impacts. Great holes in the ground like open cast mines and quarries; wasted landscapes - his series of rivers running blood red polluted with toxic mineral waste is extraordinary; landfill sites - urban mines as he calls them; sites of epic industrial spectacle - the beach shipbreakers of Bangladesh, oil refineries.
There is plenty of environmental politics here. As well as simply grand pictures of huge holes in the ground.
Susan Cameron, Phil Dhingra, Annie Wyman, Erica Simmons, Bill Rathje and myself ran a commentary on the photographs exploring what we saw as the contemporary sublime in Burtynsky’s archaeography. The web site attracted 70,000 visitors over the three month exhibition, many of whom left their own comments and got involved in the discussion.
Burtynsky at Stanford - a report - screenshots of the web site and comment on the experiment with participatory/social software.