Nature reorganized

The history of humanity is a story of organized action upon the land, whether that is considered as a complex ecology that includes living and non-living things or as a functionally empty surface for the imposition of efficient systems and forms. If a place teems with hidden riches then these can be extracted as valuable views and useful materials. Such organization of the natural and its opposite is one of the first and perhaps most fundamental architectural acts.

Article 10 of 14

Views of Lake Ontario

Photographs by Robert Burley

The presence of nature in cities and landscapes in transition is at the centre of a project developed by Robert Burley. In his photographic series Great Lakes, begun in 2006, Burley delves into an aspect of this subject by depicting the natural features of Lake Ontario as seen from the Toronto waterfront.

Created using a large format camera and long exposures in the light of early dawn, Burley’s images capture the points of contact of land, water and sky. Taken from the same place, the images differ slightly in their point of view on the horizon and position the artist in relation to the site, facing the contemplative force of this landscape as it collides with the city sprawling behind.

The furthest downstream of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario receives pollutants from human activities that have greatly affected its ecosystem over the past two centuries.