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Oil [Hardcover]

Edward Burtynsky
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 21 2011
In 1997 I had what I refer to as my oil 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. Over the next ten years I researched and photographed the largest oil fields I could find. I went on to make images of refineries, freeway interchanges, automobile plants and the scrap industry that results from the recycling of cars. Then I began to look at the culture of oil, the motor culture, where masses of people congregate around vehicles, with vehicle events as the main attraction. These images can be seen as notations by one artist contemplating the world as it is made possible through this vital energy resource and the cumulative effects of industrial evolution."

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burtynsky's crude May 15 2010
Format:Hardcover
This has to be a book of monumental proportions: the photographer's ten year concept; ninety-nine stunning photos; just over fourteen by eleven inches; weighing over six pounds (and I might just add some monumental dreary writing).

It's very refreshing to see a photo book that is devoted to an in depth look at one subject and thankfully in its widest visual form. Burtynsky traveled across America, Canada, China, Azerbaijan and Bangladesh to capture images showing extraction, refinement, transport, motor culture and the end result of transport when oil has been used.

These are photos that will just grab and amaze you, straight reportage and no arty gimmicks (who needs them when the subject matter is this visually fascinating). Brand new pipelines in Alberta that are angled across the country and you'll notice that a forest has been cut down to follow the angle of the pipes, dozens of nodding-donkeys across the landscape in Belridge, California, Fort McMurray tar sands in Alberta, six deep flyovers in LA, the quite extraordinary decaying derricks and oil polluted land in Baku, Azerbaijan, tire and crushed auto dumps and yet more amazing shots of the shore in Chittagong, Bangladesh where the locals cut up, big super tankers into small bits for re-cycling, mostly by hand, too. All these remarkable photos are presented on the page with generous margins and printed on matt art with a 175 screen and because Burtynsky took all the photos they have a continuity of color and texture.

The book is in two parts. The photos then three essays. The first one by Paul Roth, of the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, is amazingly verbose, as in:

`This modern form of sublimity is more complex than mere technophobia.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burtynsky's crude May 15 2010
By Robin Benson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This has to be a book of monumental proportions: the photographer's ten year concept; ninety-nine stunning photos; just over fourteen by eleven inches; weighing over six pounds (and I might just add some monumental dreary writing).

It's very refreshing to see a photo book that is devoted to an in depth look at one subject and thankfully in its widest visual form. Burtynsky traveled across America, Canada, China, Azerbaijan and Bangladesh to capture images showing extraction, refinement, transport, motor culture and the end result of transport when oil has been used.

These are photos that will just grab and amaze you, straight reportage and no arty gimmicks (who needs them when the subject matter is this visually fascinating). Brand new pipelines in Alberta that are angled across the country and you'll notice that a forest has been cut down to follow the angle of the pipes, dozens of nodding-donkeys across the landscape in Belridge, California, Fort McMurray tar sands in Alberta, six deep flyovers in LA, the quite extraordinary decaying derricks and oil polluted land in Baku, Azerbaijan, tire and crushed auto dumps and yet more amazing shots of the shore in Chittagong, Bangladesh where the locals cut up, big super tankers into small bits for re-cycling, mostly by hand, too. All these remarkable photos are presented on the page with generous margins and printed on matt art with a 175 screen and because Burtynsky took all the photos they have a continuity of color and texture.

The book is in two parts. The photos then three essays. The first one by Paul Roth, of the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, is amazingly verbose, as in:

'This modern form of sublimity is more complex than mere technophobia. It acknowledges our dependence on automation, its betterments and pleasures; our astonishment at its extremes; and finally, our creeping terror at its consequentiality. We see no simplistic villainy in Burtynsky's pictures--no industrial Golem, no homicidal Frankenstein. Rather, we see the ordering force of man, and the chilling, corrosive, penultimate threat that lies at the black heart of our rationalism.'

There are just over fifty paragraphs of this stuff! The other two essays (both written in an easy to follow straightforward style) are fortunately worth reading as they a reveal some historical detail about the sticky stuff and some background to the photos but I thought it rather odd that between these two there is a section with six photos of the deserted Ford Motor factories in Detroit. I would have thought they belonged in the main part of the book. The essays get no index but all the photos do with thumbnails and captions. Why the very brief captions can't be centered under the photos instead of having to constantly turn to the back to read them is very annoying in my opinion.

Burtynsky has already published two visually strong photo books (China and Quarries, both from Steidl) and with Oil he continues to deliver remarkable images.

***SEE INSIDE BOOK by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Landscape, Manscape, Noscape, Oilscape ... July 14 2012
By A. C. Ekin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Edward Burtynsky has been presenting us with beautiful photographs of things, rather than photographs of beautiful things for many years. This collection, which focuses on oil from extraction, to transportation, storage, use, and aftermath has a gorgeous collection of photographs. They are meticulously structured, framed, and exposed. Each photograph is beautiful to look at even though the subject under the skin may not be "beautiful". I was lucky enough to catch this exhibit in London in June; the actual prints are even more striking with their large format print and wonderful quality. The book, although of very high quality, is a little "dimmer" than the prints.

The photographs do not have accompanying titles which are provided at the end of the book. I appreciate the idea of not invading the photographic space but I wish the title index were an insert that I could pull out rather than going back and forth between the photographs and their titles when I want to know them.

He has delivered a very strong message to all the viewers, that we are addicted to oil with all the side effects, using visual artistry that has become his signature style. Highly recommend the book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome April 5 2011
By Mark Town - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is quite something. I am not that familiar with the list of photography books that might aspire to accomplish so much, but I certainly know of no other book that can change one's view of the world. "Oil" is a comprehensive visual indictment of the way we live as fueled by oil. The scope of the photographs is amazing and the cumulative effect is immensely powerful. It connects things - producton, distribution by ship and truck, the visual culture that cheap oil and the automobile created, and all the resulting waste. Tire waste, petroleum waste - waste, waste and more waste. Even the often gleaming infastructure - the pipelines and the highways - to support it all is both awesome and depressing. The book forces you to ask "what have we done?" And if you do not look away, you know what the answer is - "gigantic, gargantuan damage that is unlikely to be recovered from - ever."
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful collection of photographs Oct. 5 2012
By Jeroen Kuper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
beautiful collection of photographs of Burtynsky in a very impressive book. Good print quality, heavy weight paper, including a essay on the oil issue.
5.0 out of 5 stars A homage ... March 30 2012
By xolotl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A homage to everything we've known for so long, a memorial to our fossil-fueled worlds ... leaving a sour taste, that our chances of making things up probably have vanished, as have his many landscapes photographed in other series. Worth every single Euro I paid for it!
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