Transcript: Documenting Our Man-made Epoch | Sep 28, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and checked blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Documenting our mand-made epoch. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says WE'RE NOT A PROGRAM
THAT'S AFRAID OF BIG WORDS, BUT
THIS IS MUCH BIGGER THAN MOST.
IT'S POTENTIALLY AN EPOCH: THE
ANTHROPOCENE.
OR ANTHROPOCENE.
MORE ON THAT IN A SECOND.
AND IT'S THE FASCINATING SUBJECT
AT THE CORE OF A NEW EXHIBIT
MOUNTED SIMULTANEOUSLY AT THE
NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA AND
THE ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO
CALLED: "ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN
EPOCH."
HERE TO HELP US UNDERSTAND IT
ALL MUCH BETTER:
PHOTOGRAPHER EDWARD BURTYNSKY...

Edward is in his late fifties, with short white hair and a goatee. He's wearing a gray suit and a dark blue shirt.

Steve continues FILMMAKER JENNIFER BAICHWAL...

Jennifer is in her early fifties, with short, curly brown hair. She's wearing a printed beige jacket over a black shirt, and a black bead necklace.

Steve continues AND DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY OF THE PROJECT, NICHOLAS DE PENCIER.

Nicholas is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing a black jacket over a gray shirt.

Steve continues I AM DELIGHTED TO WELCOME ALL
THREE OF YOU HERE TODAY FOR... I
MEAN, THIS THING IS
EXTRAORDINARY.
HE'S ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS AND I
CAN'T WAIT TO GET INTO IT.
BUT FIRST THINGS FIRST.
HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT?

The caption changes to "In the beginning..."

Jennifer says IT'S THE SUBJECT OF A LOT OF INTERNAL
DEBATE AND ED AND NICK ARE ON
THE ANTHROPOCENE SIDE AND I'M ON
THE ANTHROPOCENE SIDE, WHICH
LOOSELY TRANSLATES AS SORT OF AN
AMERICAN WAY OF SAYING IT AND A
EUROPEAN WAY OF SAYING IT.

Steve says YOU GO FOR THE
EUROPEAN WAY.
OKAY.
WE'LL USE BOTH HERE JUST SO WE
CAN KEEP EVERYBODY ON HAPPY
TERMS.
JUST LET'S START WITH A LITTLE
BIT OF BACKGROUND, SHALL WE?
MR. DIRECTOR, WOULD YOU LIKE TO
ROLL THIS CLIP, PLEASE?
THANK YOU.

A clip plays on screen. In the clip, a montage shows crowded beaches and cities.

A male voice says HUMANS GO FROM BEING
PARTICIPANTS IN THE WHOLE EARTH
TO BEING A DOMINANT FEATURE.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Anthropocene: The human epoch."

A different male voice says DOMINATING THE OCEANS, THE
LANDSCAPE, AGRICULTURE, ANIMALS.

Clips show the destruction of nature and men piling up hundreds of elephant tusks in a burning pyre.

A female voice says IT COULD BE A FULL-SCALE
CATASTROPHIC CHANGE.

Intricately carved ivory objects sit on display in a glass cabinet. Aerial views show massive stone quarried and artists carving marble statues. Fast clips show other economic activities.

(music plays)

The woman says WE HAVE NOT A WAY TO GET
BACK.
WE LIVE NOW IN A DIFFERENT
WORLD.

One of the men says THE WAY THE EARTH IS BEHAVING
WE NEED TO COMMUNICATE AS
POWERFULLY AS POSSIBLE TO
EVERYBODY.

Fast clips show mining and road building activities.

(music plays)

The clip ends.

Steve says HUH.
THAT'S FROM THE FILM?

Jennifer says THAT'S
FROM THE FILM.

Steve says HOW MUCH FOOTAGE...
HOW LONG IS THE FILM?

Jennifer says THE FILM IS 90 MINUTES.

Steve says HOW MUCH FOOTAGE DID
YOU SHOOT TO GET 90 MINUTES OF
FINISHED PRODUCT?

Jennifer says AROUND 300 HOURS.
AND I KNOW THAT SOUNDS
INCREDIBLY INEFFICIENT.

[LAUGHTER]

The caption changes to "Jennifer Baichwal. Filmmaker, 'Anthropocene: The human epoch.'"

Jennifer says BUT IT'S ACTUALLY A
PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH TO MAKING
DOCUMENTARY THAT IS ABOUT
GATHERING AND NOT DICTATING
ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO GET
PEOPLE TO DO.
YOU JUST GO INTO THE FIELD, INTO
THE CONTEXT, AND LET IT HAPPEN.

Steve says DID YOU SHOOT ALL
300 HOURS?

Nicholas says NO, NO.

Steve says BECAUSE YOU WOULD
NOT BE HERE TODAY IF YOU DID.

The caption changes to "Nicholas De Pencier. Director of Photography, 'Anthropocene: The Human Epoch.'"

Nicholas says YEAH.
NONE OF US COULD HAVE
INDIVIDUALLY DONE THIS PROJECT.
IT WAS A NECESSARY COLLABORATION
AMONG US THREE AND ALL OF OUR
TEAMS, AND EVEN THEN WE WERE
STRETCHED, IT'S SO BIG IN SCALE.

Steve says HOW MANY YEARS
ALTOGETHER TO PUT IT TOGETHER?

Nicholas says FOUR PLUS.

Steve says FOUR PLUS.
HERE'S THE WORD, WHETHER IT'S
ANTHROPOCENE OR ANTHROPOCENE,
HERE'S THE HANDY-DANDY...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "The Anthropocene project."

Steve reads from the slate and says
DEFINITION: THE PROPOSED CURRENT
GEOLOGICAL EPOCH IN WHICH HUMANS
ARE THE CAUSE OF PERMANENT
PLANETARY CHANGE.
WHEN WAS THE TERM ANTHROPOCENE
FIRST DISCOVERED?

Jennifer says A NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING
SCIENTIST FIRST COINED THE TERM
IN THE EARLY '90s, RIGHT?

Edward says ABOUT 12 YEARS AGO.

Jennifer says YEAH, ABOUT 12 YEARS AGO.
HE SAID WE ARE NOW IN AN EPOCH,
A GEOLOGICAL EPOCH, WHERE HUMANS
HAVE SHIFTED THE PLANET'S
SYSTEMS OUTSIDE THEIR NATURAL
LIMITS, OUTSIDE THEIR NATURAL
BOUNDARIES, AND WE SHOULD BE...
OSTENSIBLY IN THE GEOLOGICAL
EPOCH SINCE THE LAST ICE AGE
RECEDED AND THERE ARE A GROUP OF
SCIENTISTS AND GEOLOGISTS WHO
ARE ARGUING THAT BECAUSE OF
RESEARCH, AND THEY'VE DONE 10
YEARS OF RESEARCH ON THIS, WE
NOW KNOW THAT HUMANS CHANGE THE
EARTH MORE THAN ALL NATURAL
PROCESSES COMBINED.

Steve says WHEN DO YOU THINK IT
STARTED, THE ANTHROPOCENE EPOCH?

The caption changes to "Edward Burtynsky. Photographer, 'Anthropocene.'"

Edward says WELL, IT REALLY... I MEAN,
WHEN WE STARTED TO MOVE TO
CITIES AND BUILD CITIES, I THINK
THAT'S REALLY WHERE THE
TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION BEGAN.
SO WE STOPPED BEING
HUNTER-GATHERERS.
BUT IN TERMS OF WHAT THEY'RE
LOOKING AT, I THINK THEY'RE
THINKING THAT THE SCIENTISTS ARE
THINKING THAT IT'S THE NUCLEAR
DETONATIONS THAT WE DID, THE
2000 NUCLEAR DETONATIONS THAT
LEFT A LAYER OF RADIATION AROUND
THE PLANET THAT CAN BE READ FROM
THE TOP OF MOUNT EVEREST,
INCLUDING IN THE CORALS.
SO THERE'S A MARKER THERE THAT
THEY CAN SAY ANYWHERE ON THE
PLANET, THERE'S A MARKER, AND
65 MILLION YEARS AGO, OUR PLANET
WAS HIT WITH A METEOR AND
CREATED A CLOUD THAT SETTLED
OVER A DECADE OR TWO WHICH TOOK
OUT ALL THE DINOSAURS AND ALL
THE BIG MAMMALS.
SO 70 percent OF LIFE WAS EXTINGUISHED
AT THAT MOMENT.
SO THAT IS A MARKER, AND THAT
LEFT A MARK AROUND THE PLANET
WHERE THAT LAYER IS.
SO WHEN THEY SEE THAT LAYER,
THAT'S 65 MILLION YEARS AGO.
ARGUABLY THE NUCLEAR LAYER IS
THAT SAME KIND OF LAYER FOR A
FUTURE GEOLOGIST TO FIND SOME
DAY AND SAY, "AH, THIS IS NOW
THE ANTHROPOCENE.
THIS IS THE MOMENT WHERE WE'VE
HAD ANOTHER EXTINCTION EVENT
THAT'S CLOSE TO THE ONE THAT
WE'RE NOT SURE WHERE IT'S GOING
TO END, BUT WE ARE NOW."

Steve says PROBABLY 70-PLUS
YEARS AGO THEN, RIGHT?
HIROSHIMA, NAGASAKI?

Edward says THE '50s.

Steve says I DON'T KNOW HOW WE
DO THIS WITHOUT PUTTING OUR
BACKS TO THE CAMERA, BUT LET'S TRY.
THE PICTURE BEHIND US ON THE
JUMBOTRON, WHAT IS THIS?
THIS IS SHOT FROM CATHEDRAL
GROVE, BRITISH COLUMBIA.
I THINK... NICHOLAS, YOU GUYS
CHOSE THIS FOR THE BACKDROP FOR
THE INTERVIEW, RIGHT?
WHAT DOES THIS PARTICULARLY SAY
TO YOU?

A wall screen behind them shows a large picture of a verdant forest with thin tall trees and shrubs covered in moss.

The caption changes to "Picture this."

Nicholas says WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS AS WE LOOK AT
HOW MUCH HUMANS ARE AFFECTING
THE PLANET AND HOW THAT IS
PERHAPS REACHING A TIPPING POINT
IS TO REMIND OURSELVES, MAYBE A
KIND OF ILLUMINATION THROUGH
JUXTAPOSITION, THAT THERE ARE
STILL PRISTINE LANDSCAPES, THAT
THERE ARE AREAS WITH A COMPLETE
BIODIVERSITY, AND IN CANADA
WE'RE EXTREMELY LUCKY TO HAVE
MORE THAN MOST IN TERMS OF OUR
WILD SPACES.
AND THAT'S WHAT'S REALLY IN
DANGER OF BEING LOST.
AND SO THERE ARE MOMENTS IN THE
FILM WHERE WE SPEND TIME IN A
PRISTINE LANDSCAPE LIKE THIS.
WE SPEND TIME IN THE FULL
PANOPLY OF LIFE OF A CORAL REEF
AS WELL.
TO REMIND US WHAT WE HAVE TO
LOSE IF WE DON'T SOMEHOW REIN IN
OR CONTROL A LOT OF OUR
PRACTICES.

Steve says WELL, IF THAT IS ONE
SIDE OF THE COIN, WE'RE ABOUT TO
SHOW A SERIES OF PICTURES THAT
ARE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN.
AND EDWARD, I'LL HAVE YOU TAKE
US THROUGH THESE.
HERE IS OPEN PIT MININGS.
WE'RE GOING TO SHOW PICTURES OF
DEFORESTATION, OF URBAN SPRAWL.
AND I HAVE TO TELL YOU, THESE
PICTURES ARE ABSOLUTELY
GORGEOUS.
THEY'RE STUNNING.
BUT OF COURSE THEY ARE
PORTRAYING INCREDIBLE
DEGRADATION OF THE PLANET.
SO IN YOUR VIEW, ARE THESE
PICTURES... I WANT TO MAKE SURE
I UNDERSTAND THIS... ARE THESE
PICTURES BEAUTIFUL OR UGLY?

An aerial view shot shows a massive open air mining pit. Then, other pictures show a huge mining pit with a massive digger in it, a large swath of deforestation in a jungle, thousands of logs piled up by the water and floating in it, and a crowded city.

The caption changes to "A thing of beauty?"

Edward says WELL, I THINK THEY'RE VISUALLY COMPELLING.
I'D RATHER USE THAT THAN THE
WORD "BEAUTIFUL."
I THINK THEY DRAW YOU IN AND
HOPEFULLY INVOKE A SENSE OF
WONDER, WHERE IS THIS?
HOW COULD THIS BE HERE ON THE
PLANET?
THAT'S ONE THING I'VE ALWAYS
BEEN INTERESTED IN WITH THE
CAMERA AND THE STILL FRAME IS TO
ALLOW THE VIEWER TO FALL INTO
THE IMAGE AND TO BEGIN TO TRY TO
PARSE IT TO UNDERSTAND, WHAT AM
I LOOKING AT?
WHERE IS THIS PLACE?
AND THEN TO ALSO HAVE SOME
DETAIL IN THERE, A TRACK OR
PERSON STANDING THAT REVEALS THE
INCREDIBLE SCALE.
AND THESE ARE EQUIVALENT TO WHAT
I BELIEVE ARE URBAN SPACES, ARE
CITIES.
WE LIVE IN A METROPOLITAN CITY,
TORONTO.
BUT ALL THAT MATERIAL COMES FROM
SOMEWHERE.
AND WE DON'T SEE THAT OTHER
WORLD.
SO I SEE THE WORK AS A BRIDGE TO
THOSE WORLDS SO IT OPENS US UP
TO WHAT'S HAPPENING OUT THERE IN
NATURE AND THE PLACES THAT WE GO
TO GET THE THINGS THAT WE NEED.
IN SOME OF THESE IMAGES, THE
FIRST ONE THAT POPPED UP IS IN
WYOMING WHERE A LOT OF COAL
COMES FROM THE UNITED STATES AND
IT'S BEING SHIPPED ABROAD AND
IT'S ALSO BEING BURNED IN POWER
STATIONS ACROSS AMERICA.

The open air mining pit picture pops up again.

Steve says THERE WE ARE.
THANK YOU, SHELDON.
THAT'S THE ONE.
COAL MINING IN WYOMING.

Edward says AGAIN, WE
GOT SOME FILM FOOTAGE OF THE
TRAINS CARRYING THE COAL.
AND NICK AND I WERE THERE FOR
THREE OR FOUR DAYS.
RECOGNIZING THE SCALE OF THE
INFRASTRUCTURE OF THESE
COAL-MINING REGIONS AROUND
GILLETTE IN WYOMING AND JUST
TRAIN AFTER TRAIN LOADED WITH
COAL COMING THROUGH, ONE EVERY
HOUR, AND THE LENGTH OF THESE
TRAINS IS PHENOMENAL.
AND YOU START TO UNDERSTAND THE
SCALE OF WHAT HUMAN NEED IS AND
HOW REPLACING THAT BASE LOAD OF
ENERGY IS SUCH A DAUNTING
PROBLEM TO REPLACE THAT WITH
WINDMILLS OR SOLAR PANELS.

Steve says OBVIOUSLY PEOPLE CAN
LOOK AT THE SAME PICTURE AND
COME TO VERY DIFFERENT
INTERPRETATIONS.
DONALD TRUMP WOULD LOOK AT THAT
PICTURE AND SAY "THAT'S
PROGRESS.
THOSE ARE JOBS FOR PEOPLE WHO
VOTED FOR ME."
YOU LOOK AT THOSE PICTURES AND
SEE ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION.

An aerial view shows several factories near a river spewing white vapour into the air.

Edward says AND I SEE THAT THIS IS
BUSINESS AS USUAL.
THIS IS WHAT WE DO EVERY DAY TO
SURVIVE AS A SPECIES, AND IT IS
TROUBLESOME BECAUSE WE KNOW
WHAT'S... YOU KNOW, BY BURNING
COAL, AND PARTICULARLY COAL IS
THE WORST OF THE THREE BETWEEN
NATURAL GAS AND OIL, COAL IS THE
WORST.
BUT WE KNOW THAT THERE'S A
CONSEQUENCE TO THIS AND WE'RE
LOADING THE ATMOSPHERE WITH CO2,
WHICH IS NOW CAUSING THE OCEANS
TO WARM AND ACIDIFY.
SO THESE THINGS WE KNOW THAT
THERE'S A REAL PROBLEM
OCCURRING...

Steve says SINCE YOU'VE JUST
REFERRED TO IT, WE'VE GOT THIS
PICTURE UP NOW.
THIS IS A PETROCHEMICAL PLANT I
GATHER IN THE STATE OF TEXAS.
JENNIFER, CAN WE SEE THE OTHER
ONE IN NIGERIA, THE OIL
BUNKERING IN NIGERIA?
AND THEN I'LL GET JENNIFER TO
TELL US WHAT TECHNO... THERE WE GO.
OIL BUNKERING IN NIGERIA.

An aerial view shows a degraded area with a river running through it. The earth is black, with no vegetation, and the river glistens with chemicals.

Jennifer shows an object resembling a stone and says I HAVE A TECHNO FOSSIL WITH ME.
THEY ARE HUMAN-CREATED OR
ALTERED MATERIALS THAT PERSIST
IN THE BIOSPHERE AND EVENTUALLY
END UP IN THE ROCK LAYERS OF THE
EARTH.
THAT'S WHAT GEOLOGISTS ARE
INTERESTED IN.
FOR EXAMPLE, THEY LOOK AT
CONTEMPORARY LANDFILLS.
THEY GET COMPRESSED.
AND SOMEONE IN THE FUTURE WILL
LOOK AT AND SAY THIS IS ALL
HUMAN MATERIAL.
THIS IS OUTSIDE THE BASQUE
ESTUARY IN SPAIN.
THEY USED TO DUMP IT OUTSIDE IN
THE OCEAN OUTSIDE OF TH ESTUARY
AND THROUGH THE REPEATED ACTION
OF WAVES ON MATERIALS, THESE
ROCKS HAVE COME UP ONTO THE
BEACH AND ARE NOW EMBEDDED IN
THE STRATA.
THIS IS ENTIRELY MADE OF IRON,
BUT IT LOOKS LIKE A ROCK.
SO IT IS A HUMAN MATERIAL THAT
HAS BECOME LIQUEFIED.
THIS IS ONE OF THE CATEGORIES OF
RESEARCH.
TECHNO FOSSILS ARE CONCRETE,
ALUMINUM, PLASTIC... THINGS THAT
WE USE EVERY DAY THAT WILL
PERSIST.
AND THEY ESTIMATE THAT THE
TECHNOSPHERE, WHICH IS THE
ENTIRE AGGREGATE OF
HUMAN-CREATED OR ALTERED
MATERIAL ON EARTH, IS OVER
30 TRILLION TONNES.

Steve says HOW DOES PLASTIC FIT
INTO A TECHNOFOSSIL?

The caption changes to "Jennifer Baichwal, Instagram: @theantrhopoceneproject."

Jennifer says PLASTIC IS A TECHNOFOSSIL AND
PLASTIC IS ONE OF OUR BIGGEST
PROBLEMS.

A picture shows people and a dog standing on a gigantic pile of plastic trash. In another picture, several people, including children, rummage in a huge garbage dump.

Jennifer says THIS IS A LANDFILL SITE WHERE
PEOPLE INFORMALLY WORK THESE
GROUNDS RECYCLING MATERIALS,
SELLING BOTTLES, SELLING
MATERIALS, AND WE'RE LOOKING AT
THIS PROBLEM AND KIND OF
THINKING ABOUT, WELL, PLASTIC
BOTTLES, SINGLE-USE PLASTIC, THE
FACT THAT WE'RE STILL DOING THIS
NOW, THE FACT THAT IN ONTARIO WE
DON'T HAVE A PLASTIC BOTTLE
DEPOSIT PROGRAM.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says WHY?

Jennifer says 90 percent OF PLASTIC BOTTLES END UP IN...

Steve says RECYCLING.

Jennifer says IN LANDFILLS.
AND IF YOU DO THE DEPOSIT, IT
IMMEDIATELY SHIFTS TO 90 percent END UP
BEING RECYCLED AND REUSED.
IT'S A NO BRAINER.
WHY AREN'T WE DOING IT?

Steve says HERE ARE ANOTHER
COUPLE OF BEAUTIFUL PICTURES,
THIS, NICK, FROM A POTASH MINE
IN RUSSIA.
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT WE'RE
LOOKING AT?
AGAIN, THIS LOOKS ABSOLUTELY
SPECTACULAR, I GUESS UNTIL YOU
FIGURE OUT WHAT'S ACTUALLY GOING
ON THERE.

Pictures show dry earth with an undulating pattern in hues of gray, beige and orange, vaguely resembling a seashell.

The caption changes to "Nicholas De Pencier, Instagram: @theantrhopoceneproject."

Nicholas says WELL,
THE WORK IS MEANT TO BE NOT
ACCUSATORY AND CERTAINLY TO GET
TO THE WORLD POPULATION THAT WE
HAVE, WE'VE HAD TO UP OUR
AGRICULTURE GAME THAT HAS A LOT
OF INPUTS.
SO WE COULD HAVE GONE TO POTASH
MINES IN THE PRAIRIES, BUT
THEY'RE A VERY DULL SLATE-GRAY.
THEY'RE NOT THIS INCREDIBLE
PSYCHEDELIC PATTERN.
AND SO WE ARE DEEP UNDERGROUND
IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS AND OUR
VISUAL RESEARCH, WHICH WE DO
MONTHS AND MONTHS, A YEAR
ALMOST, BEFORE WE IDENTIFY THE
LOCATIONS THAT WE WANT TO GO AND
REPRESENT THESE ISSUES THAT
WE'RE TRYING TO RESONATE IN THE
PROJECT, TURNED UP THIS
INCREDIBLE MINE IN RUSSIA.
AND GETTING ACCESS IS REALLY
DIFFICULT.

Steve says FROM GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS, YOU MEAN?

Nicholas says FIRST OF ALL TO GET INTO
RUSSIA WITH A CAMERA CREW, AS I
THINK EVERYONE TOLD US, HAS
NEVER BEEN MORE DIFFICULT SINCE
THE COLD WAR AND IT TOOK SOME
DOING BUT WE DID IT AND THEN
OBVIOUSLY ACCESS TO THE
INDUSTRIAL SITES, TO THE MINE
AND EVERYTHING, WE HAVE TO
CONVINCE THEM THAT WE'RE NOT
DOING A HATCHET JOB.
WE'RE PRESENTING THINGS AS THEY
ARE.
AND WE WERE HASSLED QUITE A LOT
BY THE RUSSIAN POLICE AND
EVERYTHING THERE.
I THINK THEY DIDN'T QUITE
BELIEVE THAT WE WERE EXPENDING
ALL OF THIS ENERGY AND WE
WEREN'T SPIES OR, YOU KNOW,
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS, BUT IT
WAS AN ART PROJECT AND
EVERYTHING THAT WE SAID THAT IT WAS.

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON
THAT WITH ED.
THIS IS UNDERGROUND.

Edward says YES.

Steve says HOW DO YOU TAKE A
PICTURE OF SOMETHING THAT'S
UNDERGROUND WHICH PRESUMABLY HAS
NO LIGHT THERE?

Edward says WE HAD TO BRING A LOT OF
LIGHTS WITH US, AND THANK GOD
FOR LED LIGHTS THESE DAYS
BECAUSE WE CAN ACTUALLY RUN
THESE LIGHTS WITH BATTERY AND
STAY A WHOLE DAY UNDERGROUND.
IN THE CASES OF... IN THE CASE
OF THIS IMAGE, I HAD TWO OF MY
ASSISTANTS WORKING WITH
LIGHTING, HIDING IT UNDER THEIR
COATS AND WALKING ALONG THESE
TUNNELS AT A PERFECTLY SMOOTH
PACE SO THAT I AM PAINTING.
SO THE CAMERA'S LENS HAS BEEN
OPEN TO THE LIGHT FOR MAYBE TWO
MINUTES, BECAUSE IT'S TOTALLY
DARK, AND THEN WE JUST START THE
LIGHTS AND WALK.
I PROBABLY DID ABOUT 20 VERSIONS
OF IT BEFORE I GOT THE LIGHT
SMOOTH ENOUGH AND I HAD TO
DIRECT THE TWO... THE TWO
ASSISTANTS TO KIND OF GET THE
PACE PERFECT SO WE DIDN'T BURN
IT OUT.
IT'S INTERESTING, WITH DIGITAL
AS WELL IS THAT, IF IT WAS FILM,
I COULD NOT SEE WHAT... YOU
KNOW, WHAT I WAS DOING AS I WAS
DOING IT.
WHEREAS I GOT INSTANT FEEDBACK
ON THE BACK OF THE CAMERA AND
SAY IT'S A LITTLE DARK OVER
THERE AND I BRING MIKE AND JIM
OVER AND SAY MORE TIME SPENT
HERE, LESS TIME SPENT HERE.
SO IT WAS KIND OF A FUN
LIGHT-PAINTING KIND OF PUZZLE.

Steve says DO I PRESUME, NICK,
THAT WHILE YOU'RE DOWN THERE,
YOU'RE SORT OF WAITING FOR YOUR
MINDERS TO TAP YOU ON THE
SHOULDER ANY SECOND AND SAY
"TIME'S UP.
TIME TO GET OUT"?

Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Nicholas says OUR POOR MINERS.
WE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE MINERS
DOWN THERE BUT IT'S LOGISTICALLY
CHALLENGING.
IT TOOK US A LONG TIME.
WE SAID ACTUALLY WE WANT TO COME
BACK TOMORROW AND TOMORROW AND
TOMORROW.
I THINK WE WERE SEVEN DAYS.
IN THE BEGINNING YOU GO DOWN
THERE AND IT'S SUCH AN EXOTIC
AND RARIFIED ENVIRONMENT.
BY THE END WE WERE LIKE BORED
MINERS PUNCHING THE CLOCK.

[LAUGHTER]

Jennifer says THOSE
PONDERS COME FROM NATURALLY
OCCURRING MINERALS.
THAT'S WHERE THE REDS AND THE
BLUES COME FROM.
AND THIS IS POTASH MINING.
POTASH IS USED IN FERTILIZER,
AGRICULTURAL FERTILIZER, AS IS
NITROGEN AND PHOSPHATE, AND
THESE ARE HUGE MARKERS OF THE
ANTHROPOCENE BECAUSE THE
NITROGEN CYCLE, WE HAVE DONE
MORE TO IMPACT THE NITROGEN
CYCLE OF HUMANS THAN IN THE LAST
2.5 BILLION YEARS.

Steve says WE HAVE DONE MORE IN
THE LAST SEVERAL DECADES.

Jennifer says YES, THAN IN 2.5 BILLION
YEARS BECAUSE OF AGRICULTURE AND
BECAUSE OF USING THESE FERTILIZERS.

Steve says YOU FOLKS SHOT IN
THE MOST POLLUTED CITY IN
RUSSIA.
HAVE I GOT IT RIGHT?
NORULSK.
CAN WE BRING UP THESE NEXT SHOTS
NOW, SHELDON?
IS I'D LIKE TO KNOW MORE.

A picture shows a low-rising city with several smokestacks, enveloped in thick smog.

Steve continues NICK, START US OFF HERE.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE
CHALLENGES OF SHOOTING IN A
VERY, VERY POLLUTED PLACE, AND
FLIP THE SHOTS OVER 'CAUSE...
THERE WE GO.
THERE YOU THREE ARE.
WHAT'S THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS
SHOT?

A picture shows the three guests holding up their bare hands, stained gray.

[LAUGHTER]

Nicholas says YOU
KNOW, WHEN... THERE'S SO MUCH
EXPECTATION WHEN YOU'VE BEEN
RESEARCHING AND TRYING TO GET
ACCESS FOR SO LONG AND YOU'RE
FINALLY THERE AND ALL YOU WANT
TO DO IS PHOTOGRAPH AND FILM OR
SLEEP, WHICH YOU NEED TO DO
SOMETIMES, WHICH IS DIFFICULT
THERE BECAUSE THE SUN NEVER
SETS.
AND WE ACTUALLY DETERMINED THAT
THE BEST LIGHT WAS BETWEEN ABOUT
2:00 AND 6:00 A.M.
SO WE WOULD HAVE DINNER AND WAKE
UP AGAIN AND GO OUT.
BUT IT'S A CLOSED CITY.

The caption changes to "Working together."

Steve says WHERE IS IT?

Nicholas says IT'S 320 KILOMETRES NORTH OF
THE ARCTIC CIRCLE.
IT'S A ONE-COMPANY TOWN OF
200,000 PEOPLE.

Steve says WHAT'S THE COMPANY?

Nicholas says NOR NICKEL.

Steve says THEY'RE MINING
NICKEL THERE?

Nicholas says YES.
THINK SUDBURY NORTH OF THE
ARCTIC CIRCLE, 200,000 PEOPLE.
AND EVEN IF YOU'RE RUSSIAN, YOU
NEED A PERMIT TO GET THERE.
IT WAS BUILT WITH GULAG SLAVE
LABOUR AND THEY'RE VERY
PROTECTIVE, I GUESS, ABOUT ITS
STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE, AND THEN
PROBABLY ALSO NOT WANTING A LOT
OF LIGHT CAST ON THE FACT THAT
THERE'S NO SCRUBBING... I MEAN,
YOU GET OFF THE PLANE AT THE
AIRPORT AND WE LEARNED LATER THE
WIND HAPPENED TO BE BLOWING THAT
WAY BUT OUR EYES WERE STREAMING,
OUR LUNGS WERE BURNING, WE
LOOKED AT EACH OTHER AND SAID
I'M NOT EVEN SURE WE'RE GOING TO
DO THIS BECAUSE WE'RE THERE FOR
TEN DAYS FOR FILMING.

Steve says SO TO WORK THERE IS
TO, IN ESSENCE, ACCEPT THAT
YOU'RE GOING TO BUY OF CANCER
SOME DAY, PRESUMABLY?
CAN'T GO THAT FAR?

Jennifer says LET'S
REMEMBER THIS IS A CITY OF
200,000 PEOPLE, ALL OF WHOM ARE
MAKING A LIVING WORKING IN THIS
INDUSTRY AT THIS MINE WHO LIVE
THERE EVERY DAY.
WHO HAVE TO LIVE WITH THESE
CONDITIONS.
SO FOR US TO BE ABLE TO GO IN
THERE AND KIND OF ILLUMINATE
WHAT IS HAPPENING THERE, IT HAS
THE BIGGEST COLOURED METAL MINE.
IT'S NOT JUST NICKEL, IT'S
COPPER AND PALLADIUM, AND THEY
HAVE THE BIGGEST METAL SMELTING
COMPLEX IN THE WORLD.
WE USE THAT.
OUR CELL PHONES HAVE THAT
PALLADIUM IN IT.
THE COPPER, THE NICKEL... WE ALL
PARTAKE OF THESE ENVIRONMENTS.
AND PART OF OUR... THE REASON
THAT WE GO TO SUCH LENGTH AND SO
FAR IS TO CONNECT, ALL OF US, US
AND EVERYONE TO PLACES THAT WE
ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BUT WOULD
NEVER NORMALLY SEE.

Steve says AND THANKS TO YOU,
WE SEE THEM.

Jennifer says WELL, AND SO WHEN WE GO THERE
FOR TEN DAYS, WE COUNT OURSELVES
LUCKY THAT WE DON'T LIVE THERE
ALL THE TIME.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME THERE IS
THIS HUMAN ELEMENT TO THE PEOPLE
WORKING THERE WHO ARE FEEDING
THEIR FAMILIES, THEY HAVE JOBS.
IT'S A NECESSITY.
SO THERE'S A COMPLEXITY TO THESE
PLACES AS WELL THAT I THINK IS
VERY IMPORTANT FOR US TO
HIGHLIGHT.
WE'RE NOT JUST SAYING THIS IS A
TERRIBLE PLACE, DESPITE THE FACT
THAT WE WERE DETAINED AND
FINGERPRINTED AND ALL OF THAT.
IT'S A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE ARE
LIVING.

Steve says MARGARET ATWOOD HAS
SOME CONNECTION TO THIS PROJECT.
WHAT IS IT?

Jennifer says WELL, WE MADE A FILM CALLED
"PAYBACK" ABOUT MARGARET
ATWOOD'S MASSEY LECTURES AND SHE
IS AN OLD FRIEND.

Steve says IS THAT THE ONE
ABOUT DEBT?
CONRAD BLACK IS IN IT?
I REMEMBER THAT WELL.

Jennifer says WE ASKED HER IF SHE WANTED TO
CONTRIBUTE TO THE BOOK.

A poster for the film appears on screen, featuring an aerial view of a polluted place.

Jennifer says SO THIS IS NOT ONLY A MUSEUM
EXHIBITION, IT IS A FEATURE
DOCUMENTARY FILM AND A BOOK THAT
HAS ESSAYS IN IT AND SHE
CONTRIBUTED TO OUR BOOK BY
WRITING A SUITE OF POEMS, WHICH
WERE ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE
CALLED "THE PLASTICINE SUITE."
INSTEAD OF ANTHROPOCENE, BECAUSE
OF PLASTICS.

Steve says SHELDON, 18 AND 12,
THAT'S THE BEAUTIFUL VIEW OF
PLANET EARTH FROM THE MOON WHICH
HAD A HUGE IMPACT ON THE
ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT.

A picture appears of the Earth as seen from the Moon.

Steve continues MY GOODNESS, IT'S ALMOST 50
YEARS SINCE NEIL ARMSTRONG WAS
THE FIRST MAN ON THE MOON.
THOSE PICTURES HAD AN INCREDIBLE
IMPACT ON THE CONVERSATION GOING
FORWARD.
WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DO YOU HOPE
YOU CAN HAVE WITH THE PICTURES
THAT YOU ARE NOW INTRODUCING TO
THE WORLD?

The caption changes to "Edward Burtynsky, @anthropocene."
Then, it changes again to "Hope for the future."

Edward says WELL,
WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT PICTURE OF
THE EARTH, I THINK WHAT IT SAID
TO US AS HUMANS ON THE PLANET
THAT WE LIVE IN A CLOSED SYSTEM,
THAT ALL OF A SUDDEN WE CAN SEE
THE WHOLE PLANET AS A BALL FROM
OUTER SPACE, AND THAT VIEW WAS
JUST NEVER SEEN BEFORE.
AND IT GOES BACK TO LIKE JAMES
LOVELOCK GHIA THEORY, ALL OF IT
IS CONNECTED, THE SAVANNAHS, THE
EARTH, IT'S ALL CONNECTED.
AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, WHAT
WE'RE HOPING TO DO IS WHEN
PEOPLE EXPERIENCE THE FILM, THEY
RECOGNIZE THAT WE, AS HUMANS,
ARE NOW THE ARCHITECTS OF THE
FUTURE OF THIS PLANET.
IT'S IN OUR CONTROL.
WE'RE THE MANAGERS.
IT'S A QUESTION OF: CAN WE GET
TOGETHER INTERNATIONALLY TO GET
ON TOP OF THESE PROBLEMS BEFORE
THEY RUN AWAY WITH US AND WE
START SEEING POSITIVE FEEDBACK
LOOPS LIKE THE METHANE STARTING
TO MELT IN THE PERMAFROST OF THE
NORTH.
IF THAT STARTS TO GO, WE HAVE
NOTHING IN OUR TOOL KIT THAT CAN
ACTUALLY SLOW THAT DOWN.
OR IF WE USE ALL THE WHITE FROM
THE ARCTIC AND ALL THE SNOW, ALL
THAT WATER BEGINS TO ABSORB THE
HEAT, YOU GET THESE POSITIVE
FEEDBACK LOOPS.
SO IT'S WORRISOME THAT IF THESE
THINGS START TO KICK IN, WHAT
ARE OUR OPTIONS AT THAT POINT,
OR DO WE HAVE ANY OPTIONS AT
THAT POINT?
SO WE ARE STILL AT THIS VERY,
VERY CRITICAL MOMENT THAT
THERE'S STILL HOPE THAT WE CAN
ACTUALLY GET AHEAD OF THE WORST
OF THE PROBLEMS, THE PROBLEMS
THAT MAY COME.
I WORRY THAT WE'RE JUST NOT
ACTING WITH ENOUGH URGENCY TO
GET AHEAD OF THESE PROBLEMS AND
THEN WE LEAVE THAT TO THE NEXT
GENERATIONS TO FIGHT.

Steve says IN OUR LAST MINUTE
HERE, I WONDER, NICK, WHETHER
THIS IS A CONTINUING
COLLABORATION, YOU'VE STARTED
SOMETHING AND YOU WANT TO DO
MORE, OR HAVE YOU TWO... OR
THREE, RATHER, HAD ENOUGH OF
EACH OTHER AT THIS POINT?

Nicholas says WE ARE
REALLY EXCITED THAT RIGHT NOW,
ALL OF THESE YEARS OF WORK, ARE
COMING TO FRUITION AND THAT THE
MUSEUM SHOWS ARE GOING TO BE
ABLE TO BE SEEN BY THE PUBLIC
AND THE FILM, SO WE'RE TOO MUCH
IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT, I THINK,
TO LOOK FORWARD, AND IN A WAY,
THIS IS A CULMINATION OF ALL OF
OUR COLLABORATIONS TOGETHER AND
A LOT OF WORK THAT WE'VE DONE IN
OUR CAREERS.
AND WE IDENTIFIED THAT EARLY.
THIS MAY END UP BY BEING OUR BIG
STATEMENT.
I'M HAPPY ABOUT THAT.
THIS WORK IS AN ACT OF HOPE.

Steve says AN ACT OF HOPE.
JENNIFER, YOU DON'T THINK PEOPLE
WILL EMERGE FROM HAVING SEEN ALL
THIS THINKING, "WE'RE SCREWED.
WE'RE PAST THE POINT OF NO RETURN"?

Jennifer says NO,
HOPEFULLY NOT, AND IT IS BECAUSE
I THINK WE HAVE THIS
OPPORTUNITY.
WE HAVE THRIVED AS A SPECIES.
WE HAVE.
WE HAVE THE INGENUITY AND THE
TENACITY TO THRIVE.
SO WE ALSO HAVE THE INGENUITY
AND THE TENACITY TO, AS ED SAYS,
CONSIDER THE EARTH AS A WHOLE
SYSTEM AND KNOW WE ARE THE
MANAGERS AND THAT WE HAVE TO
PULL THESE SYSTEMS BACK TO A
SAFE PLACE FOR ALL LIFE ON
EARTH.
AND I BELIEVE WE CAN DO IT.
THE SHIFT IN CONSCIOUSNESS IS
THE BEGINNING OF CHANGE, REALLY.
ONCE WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE DOING,
WORK COLLECTIVELY, THEN WE HAVE
TO HAVE THE COLLECTIVE WILL TO CHANGE.
AND WE HOPE... THAT'S WHY WE DO IT.
WE DO THIS WORK IN THE HOPE THAT
IT WILL HAVE AN IMPACT TOWARDS
POSITIVE CHANGE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Gregg Thurlbeck, @GreggThurlbeck."

Steve says WELL, WE THANK YOU
FOR DOING IT AND FOR COMING IN
TO TVO TONIGHT TO TALK ABOUT IT
THE EDWARD BURTYNSKY, THE
PHOTOGRAPHER.
JENNIFER BAICHWAL, THE
FILMMAKER.
NICHOLAS DE PENCIER, THE
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY.
"ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH", DEPENDING WHETHER YOU LIKE
EUROPEAN OR AMERICAN
PRONUNCIATION.
THANK YOU, EVERYBODY.

Watch: Documenting Our Man-made Epoch