****/**** Image A Sound A Extras A
directed by Jennifer Baichwal
by Walter Chaw There's something about Jennifer Baichwal's profiles of artists. After debuting with a nicely-modulated piece on writer Paul Bowles, Baichwal heard her muse with The True Meaning of Pictures, a profile of Appalachian portrait photog Shelby Lee Adams that, without overtly politicizing the subject, digs gratifyingly deep into the question of where representation becomes exploitation and, trickier still, how the audience might have as much to do with that difficult equation as the essayist himself. With Manufactured Landscapes, Baichwal looks at the work of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, an artist who shoots landscapes of industrial wastelands that reveal men to be astonishingly productive beasts--and destructive, too, in the same procreative stroke. It's hard to imagine the industry necessary to manufacture the scale of the freighters getting dismantled in the ship-breaking yards to which Baichwal travels with Burtynsky (I've heard a similar sense of awe attends a visit to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA)--hard to assimilate the amount of Nietzschian will-to-power necessary to even contemplate the construction of titans.