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The Canary Project: documenting dramatic transformations

 

New Orleans Three Months After the Hurricanes, 2005
Salt burn in a satsuma orange orchard. The ghostly white line marks the level at which salt water remained for days after the initial twenty-five foot storm surge flooded this coastal area.

The Canary Project

Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris [more info

The Canary Project's mission is to photograph landscapes throughout the world that are exhibiting dramatic transformation associated with global warming and to show these photographs to as many people as possible. By documenting the vulnerability, beauty and destructive power visible in places as disparate as melting glaciers in Iceland and bleached coral reefs in the Pacific, we hope to generate a deep emotional response in viewers and to heighten awareness that global warming is already underway and of immediate concern.

Why Canary?
We chose the title "The Canary Project" because the changing landscapes we are photographing stand as warnings of more severe changes to come, like the canaries once used by miners to warn of deadly methane levels.

Where Are We Going?
We are choosing locations that are visually dramatic and diverse. Cumulatively, the images we take from these locations will express the following about the scope and potential of global warming:

Global warming will affect the earth in a variety of ways (melting ice, sea-level rising, increased severity of storms, drought, desertification, damaged habitats). For instance, in September we shot glaciers in Austria as an occurrence of melting ice; and in November we shot the devastation in and around New Orleans as an occurrence of increased storm severity due to warming oceans.

The effects of global warming will be felt throughout the world. To this end we will be shooting the drying of Lake Chad in Africa, as well as the melting of the Greenland ice cap; we will be shooting the flooding of San Marco in Venice, as well as the drunken forests in Alaska.

Click here for a complete list of proposed locations

Our Approach
We are shooting landscapes as opposed to people and communities because human stories are all too easily exoticized and made distant. (It's so easy to say "It's them, not us.") We hope to create a perspective that allows viewers to place themselves in the landscape and feel intimately involved in its change. The images will convey the magnitude and scale of the land but not in such a way that intimidates or alienates the viewer.

Our approach draws on a tradition of North American landscape photography that dates back to frontier photographers such as Tim O'Sullivan and Carleton Watkins. This tradition took a new direction in the 70's when human impact on the landscape became central to the work of photographers such as Robert Adams and Richard Misrach, and more recently Edward Burtynsky.

MORE INFO

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