Suburbia Gone Wild

The idealized version of the American suburb has spread around the world and can be found in nearly every country. The banality of the spread has been ignored by artists, at least that’s the feeling of Martin Adolfsson who set out to document this changing global landscape. For example, it’s hard to figure out where the above photo was taken.

In the book Suburbia Gone Wild, you can see the varying takes on sameness throughout the world. It’s a fascinating look at the spread of the suburbs. It’s good to see artists explore the global impact of hegemonic aesthetics and forcing us to ask: is this development the kind of development we want?

Swedish born turned New York City native; photographer Martin Adolfsson has shifted the focus of the camera lens from conventional portraits to dynamic vivid impressions of the urban upper middle class. Having noticed that artists had failed to address the changing panorama of economic shifts all over the world, Adolfsson decided to highlight the issue of social metamorphosis through an innovative array of environmental portraits.

The eight countries featured represented “the dream of American Suburbia that is being copied and pasted and sprinkled with some Hollywood stardust” (Adolfsson). Additionally, with the conscious choice to omit “all these traces of signs and different languages and people”, Adolfsson has effortlessly encapsulated the uniform homogeneousness between these global hubs.

Read more at Trendland.

Nature in One Cubic Foot

A portrait photographer has been travelling the world with a one cubic foot frame and cataloguing what’s in the area the cube covers. He has captured the value of biodiversity and along with science, notes that a bio-diverse farm is more productive and healthier than one that is focused on monocultural approach to crops.

There were 30 different plants in that one square foot of grass, and roughly 70 different insects. And the coolest part, said a researcher to the Guardian in Britain, “If we picked the cube up and walked 10 feet, we could get as much as 50 percent difference in plant species we encountered. If we moved it uphill, we might find none of the species.” Populations changed drastically only a few feet away — and that’s not counting the fungi, microbes, and the itsy-bitsies that Liittschwager and his team couldn’t see.

We need to feed our planet, of course. But we also need the teeny creatures that drive all life on earth. There’s something strange about a farm that intentionally creates a biological desert to produce food for one species: us. It’s efficient, yes. But it’s so efficient that the ants are missing, the bees are missing, and even the birds stay away. Something’s not right here. Our cornfields are too quiet.

Read more at NPR.

Edward Burtynsky: OIL

Edward Burtynsky: OIL is the photographer’s examination of how humanity uses oil through photographs. The project started as a display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and has been translated to book form and, more recently, as an app for iPads.

I love the use of art to showcase our relationship with the commodities that we consume and Burtynsky does that quite well.

In addition to revealing the rarely-­‐seen mechanics of its manufacture, Burtynsky captures the effects of oil on our lives, depicting landscapes altered by its extraction from the earth, and by the cities and suburban sprawl generated around its use. He also addresses the coming “end of oil,” as we confront its rising cost and dwindling availability.

Bridging the disconnect between our consumer world and that of the oil industry, Burtynsky’s photographs, transfixing in their clarity, take us on a journey. Starting at the source Burtynsky shows us international drilling sites and refineries, then continues to distribution methods and the motor culture of freeways, eventually, leading us to the inevitable end of oil at scrap-­‐yards, recycling grounds and abandoned oil fields.

The Oil iPad app is well done and has the photos from the exhibition plus commentary from Burtynsky. Throughout the app he narrates some photos and provides his thoughts on how we can improve our knowledge about oil use in modern culture.

If anybody out there still thinks that oil extraction as it’s currently practised is fine for people and the environment do the world a favour and tell that person to check this out.

You maybe lucky enough to catch the exhibit in person too. The BURTYNSKY: OIL exhibition is at The Photographers’ Gallery in London May 19 – July 1, 2012. After that it travels to the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno (July 9–September 23, 2012); to the Taubman Museum in Roanoke (October 19, 2012–January 6, 2013); and to the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa (June 4–September 2, 2013)

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