Saturday, February 10, 2007

The art of war

Interesting winning photo by Spencer Platt in this year's World Press Photo Contest. It spurred me on to look at some of the other winners. Viewing the photographs gave me the uncomfortable feeling of how beautiful war and despair can be in the hands of top photographers. It reminded me of the images of Edward Burtynsky that I first saw at the TED conference in 2005. Having gone to architecture school in Buffalo, NY and in the shadows of the steel industry, I have always found industrial architecture aesthetically interesting. Burtynsky takes that aesthetic appeal to a whole new level with his large format, crisply lit images of the fringes of our industrial world. In his photographs, the cast offs and decaying stages of heavy industry look somehow more beautiful than "healthy" and thriving industrial scenes. It takes time to understand what you're looking at. You first enjoy its aesthetic beauty and then start to decode what you are looking at. Over time, you realize that while the images are quite beautiful, the workers who appear in them are real victims... often of the same industries that bring oil, tires, minerals and plastic toys to the USA each and every day.

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