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INDUSTRIAL SCARS: The Hidden Costs of Consumption by J Henry Fair

INDUSTRIAL SCARS: The Hidden Costs of Consumption by J Henry Fair
05 Dec
Pollution can be full of colour. In Industrial Scars, photographer J Henry Fair shows how extracting minerals and fossil fuels is often a vivid affair

The ‘Hidden’ part of the book’s subtitle is a misnomer, however, as many of Fair’s subjects are wide open landscapes such as mines and river deltas, or whole buildings such as pesticide plants and steel mills. Though these places are often out of bounds to the general public, his airplane-mounted equipment means that any large industrial project is fair game. Heights, as well as the photographer’s promise that no images are digitally enhanced, means that it’s the iridescent, strange shapes of his work that astonishes. Be it the blood orange hues of an aluminium refinery, the aquamarine threads of fertiliser run-off, or the sheen of an oil slick. The beauty is unsettling. With Industrial Scars it is hard to shake the idea that bright colours are often a warning sign in nature.

Each image is accompanied with explanations about impact. Though helpful, this tactic occasionally gives priority to Fair’s environmental argument over that of his visuals. This is seen in the ‘fracking’ section, where the text has more command than the images – at times it appears less an art series and more a catalogue of destruction. That being said, a self-aware Fair acknowledges that ‘often the more abstract images in this series are the most compelling’. His images of sulphur are testament to this, as he captures the substance stacked into bizarre pyramids, seemingly fenced by thin, weedy posts. Closer inspection show the posts to be full-sized industrial cranes. Though it is polemic in places, Industrial Scars is a vital collection, exposing the state of crumbling landscapes all-too-often kept from the public eye.

Click here to purchase Industrial Scars: The Hidden Costs of Consumption by J Henry Fair

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