Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Movie Week 'Manufactured Landscapes' Review

'Manufacted Landscapes' opens with a drawn out tracking shot showing row upon row of factory workers as they hand create small domestic appliances. These factory workers don't appear to have a choice or voice. They seem to exist to create products for consumption; a stark contrast to the privledged few that were shown living in Western-style homes amidst their manicured gardens. Did these elite look beyond their artifical etopia and see the ravished environment that surrounded them? Did they see the waste residue after factories finished churning out chemical-laced consumer produces and electronic waste? Did any of them care that there is no place to dispose of this waste without permeating the earth, water and air? This movie makes me think "do I really need to purchase that next electronic gizmo"?

We are then led through North American strip mines, where natural resources are taken to be exported to China to be turned into manufactured products, most with electronic components.

Our consumer-driven society dutifully recycles, only to have the majority of e-waste make its way back onto freighters, shipped back to China or other less-developed countries for final dismantling and reusing of materials. Much of this process is done by hand, exposing the handlers to toxic levels of chemicals.

Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsk really hit the mark by creating such compositionally masterful images of mountains of e-waste and consumer waste. He would never have been allowed to leave China with such footage if the powers that be had been given any idea what the end-product message might be. All they saw were beautiful images. They missed the message. We cannot afford to do the same ... Our raw resources are used to create these products. These products show up on our store shelves; we buy, consume and recycle them. Alot of what we recycle is shipped back overseas to be dismantled for re-consumption production. What are the long-term global effects of this production and consumption merry-go-round?

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