Manufactured Landscapes is a documentary featuring Edward Burtynsky’s photographic works in industrializing China. His photographs are stunning and showcase the effects of capitalism and industrialization in China. The film starts off by showing the inside of a seemingly endless factory. Hundreds of factory workers are shown looking almost zombie and robotic-like, each performing the same or similar mundane task. This is capitalism, the mass production of products done by poorly paid laborers.
The film shows many of Burtynsky’s photographs, all haunting and eerie in their magnificence. After watching the film I went and looked at Burtynysky’s website to look at more of his photographs. His photographs of the insides of the factories are some of the most compelling to me. It is one thing to look at the results of mass production, but is completely different to look at the faces and conditions of what goes into mass production. When you buy a pair of shoes you probably do not think about where they came from, whose hands made them, what conditions they were made in, how much the person was paid to make those shoes. That is the commodity fetishism that drives buying and selling in this country, we are often unaware of what went into most of the products that we buy.
I really like that Burtynsky is using photography to comment on the ever growing trend of capitalism. I think that showcasing this kind of work can help to make a lot of people more aware of the dangers and effects of over-industrialization.