In 300 years, every last tree will be gone. But there is still time to do something about it.
This project is based on the premise that images can serve a purpose in their ability to capture attention and communicate a full and complete message in one instant. The intention behind this photo collection is not to directly attack the majority who benefit from the use of wood – the pictures inside are not dramatic depictions of tragically ruined forests or scattered log piles in a desolate landscape. Instead, its emphasis is directed toward the aesthetic qualities of living trees, relying on the use of images to engage the eye. Despite the immeasurable importance of trees, their constant presence makes them easy to forget, and they have become a part of life’s backdrop. The purpose of this small book is to bring trees out from the background and up to the forefront before it is too late – to amplify a sense of urgency that trees themselves cannot communicate – “we are here, but not forever”.
The work I’ve done for my final project this semester has been both a struggle and a pass time. There have been days when several images tun out great, while others have yielded hardly any decent results at all. There have also been many hybrid days, where the work is a struggle but the reward is notable. Sometimes, photos come out well completely by mistake, while other times images that I have been planning in my head for days turn out to be impossible to achieve in reality.
Regardless of the difficulties (and fun) that I have experienced, I have realized that the subject of trees is something that I can see myself digging deeper into in the future. I can sense that the work I have been doing this semester is still unrefined, as if there is something more that I could be doing given the enthusiasm that I’ve come to realize that I have for making tree-related images. It’s weird that I hadn’t really caught on to it sooner, but now that I have, perhaps my enjoyment for it will grow into a honed purpose. I don’t doubt that at some point I will get into something else as a photographic subject, but for now I’ll find it difficult to ignore my “tree phase” now that I know I’m going through it, and I’ll probably be conscious of it every time I photograph a tree.
Although I feel that my project could stand to be more focused, I also feel that – at least internally – I have a clearer purpose than what might come across given my current progress with the project. I, like many, want to have the ability to use imagery to not only communicate my message, but to grab attention and alert viewers to the existence of a problem. As I’ve shared previously, trees will essentially become extinct within a few hundred years given the current rate of human consumption. My original intention was to bring attention to this fact through words, but my project has since morphed into image-based communication. Hopefully the message of the finished project will be as effective as I am able to make it.
Most of the pages of my magazine have been put together. I now need a front cover and any needed text for the inside of the magazine. My project has morphed some from my original plan, however, and I wanted to find out what kind of text should be included in the magazine. I also need to decide on the order of the pages (the current order of pages is not necessarily how it will be for the final draft). Here is a link to see what I have:
The photo field trip to Elfin Forest was a pleasant break from the mainly indoor experience of a normal school day. It was definitely a different experience to be interacting with classmates in an environment away from computer screens and fluorescent lights (not that I have anything against computers). It was also different (and nice) to feel free to take picture of subjects other than trees as I have been doing for the past few weeks, although my natural attraction to them still shows through in this assignment given that they feature as main topics in several of them.
Unfortunately, there are some days when I feel particularly inspired, and despite the inspirational nature of the Elfin Forest Reserve (including the lovely water features), I do not feel as if I was “on a roll” that day. Still, a few worth-while images came out well enough to satisfy me.
It would be difficult to discuss Watermark without mentioning how lovely every frame is. The effect of Edward Burtynsky’s film is immediate and stunning. Watermark is not only pleasing to the eye, but visually memorizing. The script is minimal and it seems that the film relies mainly on visuals and ambient music to create an engaging mood, which is a great choice by the filmmakers as it would be difficult to find the movie’s footage boring to look at. Edward Burtynsky, as well as the other filmmakers involved, definitely have a grasp on how to convey complete messages and emotions through visual imagery. The interviews conducted with people are certainly interesting and informative, and the movie played out must like a well-done PowerPoint presentation on the human connection to water, but even without any dialogue, the movie might still be engaging to watch with only some music playing over footage of water.
Watermark showcases Edward Burtynsky’s usual beautiful yet conflictingly disturbing imagery by including footage of natural beauty up against man made structures, exploring not just the aesthetic of water, but also how human kind interacts with water. One of the most memorable scenes for me is a shot of a body of water that slowly pans up to reveal a massive dam structure in China as the camera approaches by boat. The shot is eerie and emotionally effective, reminding me of scenes from movies when the story transitions to a dark and sinister castle or fortress.
Another thing that I noticed about the film is its ability to present information in a non-judgemental fashion – stating a fact and, for the most part, omitting opinion. Perhaps this is tied to Edward Burtynsky’s ability to focus on areas of landscape that have been reformed by humans and interpret what he sees into something captivating to look at despite the generally held belief that human activity only serves to ruin the landscape.
While there are many instances where someone like myself might look on with disdain at any evidence of industrialization that people carve into the land, Burtynsky finds interesting ways to highlight those scenes and turn them into art works, showcasing them in a way that underlines his love of nature and his conflicting appreciation of manufactured comforts. Watermark seems to be a deeper exploration of the concept that Burtynsky has made into his life’s work, and that, combined with his trademark photographic style, makes the movie unmistakably his own. I suppose one could say that his unique “Manufactured Landscapes” aesthetic style is his watermark on Watermark.
This week has been incredibly busy, so I have not been able to make as much progress as I had hoped with this magazine, but I have added a more pages and I should be able to have much more done by next week.