By MANOHLA DARGIS
Published: June 20, 2007
It’s unclear if those Chinese officials are government minders or work for the enormous company that funnels those mountains of coal first into factories and then into the environment. “Manufactured Landscapes” is one of those contemporary documentaries that put a premium on their visuals (which are estimable) and their conceptual underpinnings (a bit vague), and pay rather less attention to nominally irrelevant details like dates and names, facts and figures, history and politics. Thus, while some black-and-white video images of Mr. Burtynsky (shot by Jeff Powis) during his photographic safaris is time-stamped to a few years ago, much of the film takes place in a nonspecific present.
Edward Burtynsky was born in 1955 of Ukrainian heritage at St. Catharines, Ontario. He links his early exposure to the General Motors plant in his hometown to the development of his photographic work. His remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes are included in the collections of 15 major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Bibliothèque National in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.