THE ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT
By Edward Burtynky
We have reached an unprecedented moment in planetary history. Humans now affect the Earth and its processes more than all other natural forces combined. The Anthropocene Project is a multidisciplinary body of work combining fine art photography, film, virtual reality, augmented reality, and scientific research to investigate human influence on the state, dynamic, and future of the Earth.
The Holocene epoch started 11,700 years ago as the glaciers of the last ice age receded. Geologists and other scientists from the Anthropocene Working Group believe that we have left the Holocene and entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene. Their argument is that humans have become the single most defining force on the planet and that the evidence for this is overwhelming. Terraforming of the earth through mining, urbanization, industrialization and agriculture; the proliferation of dams and diverting of waterways; CO2 and acidification of oceans due to climate change; the pervasive presence around the globe of plastics, concrete, and other technofossils; unprecedented rates of deforestation and extinction: these human incursions, they argue, are so massive in scope that they have already entered, and will endure in, geological time.
Another collaboration from Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky, and Jennifer Baichwal, The Anthropocene Project is a multimedia exploration of the complex and indelible human signature on the Earth. Originally conceived as a photographic essay and the third in a trilogy of films including Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013), the project quickly evolved to include film installations, large-scale Burtynsky High-Resolution Murals enhanced by film extensions, 360° VR short films, and augmented reality installations. Embracing and developing innovative techniques, the trio embarked on an epic journey around the world (to every continent save Antarctica) to capture the most spectacular evidence of human influence, while taking time to reflect on the deeper meaning of what these profound transformations signify. The result is a collection of experiences that will immerse viewers in the new world of the Anthropocene epoch, delivering a sense of scale, gravity, and impact that both encompasses and moves beyond the scope of conventional screens and prints.
The project, open as of September 28, 2018 includes:
a major travelling museum exhibition that will premiere simultaneously at the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada before travelling to Manifattura di Arti, Sperimentazione e Tecnologia (MAST) in Bologna in Spring 2019;
a new release of Edward Burtynsky photographs;
a feature documentary film;
immersive interactive experiences in augmented and virtual reality;
an art book published by Steidl;
a comprehensive educational program.
photo by Dandora Landfill © #3, Plastics Recycling, Nairobi, Kenya 2016