Saw Mills #3, Log Booms, Lagos, Nigeria, 2016
Burtynsky is sometimes drawn to abstraction as a means to make the viewer contemplate an image more deeply. These logs, floating on murky waters, are the product of saw mills in Lagos, Nigeria, but they could also be interpreted as, say, a flotilla of abandoned rafts. Burtynsky describes his body of work as “a compendium of visual images that describe the great acceleration that I see happening in my own lifetime”. The Great Acceleration is defined as the post-1950 period of rampant industrial development, coupled with the extraction of natural resources, population growth and globalisation that has brought unprecedented increases in pollution. Many of the scientists who are working to define the Anthropocene believe that an appropriate start date for the epoch is 1950.