Ontario-born photographer Edward Burtynsky was recently awarded the And/Or Book Award for Photography for his series “Oil”, after it was published by Steidl in 2010. The series started in 1997 when Burtynsky says he had an “oil epiphany” - he realised that the vast, human-altered landscapes that he had pursued throughout his career were only made possible by the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the combustion engine.
Over the next ten years, he researched and photographed the largest oil fields that he could find, all over the world. He then went on to photograph the refineries, freeway interchanges and car production plants - following oil on its journey.
The final step for Burtynsky was to look at the “culture of oil”, the effect oil has had on our personal lives. “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.”
HUH. Magazine - Edward Burtynsky