Edward Burtynsky, Salinas #2, Cadiz, Spain, 2013
I first saw the work of Edward Burtynsky at a Canadian gallery around five years ago.
The images, large and small, pressed against me, held me in place, forced me to look,
to admire even, the terrible beauty that is of humankind's making.
The literary critic Roland Barthes claimed to have been bored by landscapes. He preferred portraits and other human-focused stills. For Barthes, the photos worth looking at possessed something he called the punctum, what he called a "sting, speck, cut, little hole--a cat of the die." (Camera Lucida 27). The punctum disturbs, it lingers in dreams, it wounds.
But for me, these pictures
In this case, perhaps the punctum is
not in the smallness of a speck,
but in each photo's infinitude.
...these pictures want something from me...
they enter my dreams. force me to acknowledge,
to know, to confess
that this making,
is of my making also.
Edward Burtynsky, Shipbreaking # 13. Bangladesh 2000
Edward Burtynsky. "Dryland Farming #7," Monegros County, Aragon, Spain, 2010
-Stevo Over and Out.
Stephen Quigley is a PhD student in Clemson