Anthropocene Exhibition: 3D burning tusks

The Anthropocene Exhibition, launched in 2018, uses digital mediums to reinforce the seriousness of environmental degradation and humanity’s role in causing it. Edward Burtynsky was one of three featured Canadian artists at the festival at the National Gallery in Ottawa who utilized 3D projection to display a photo of a massive pile of burning elephant tusks in Nairobi National Park, Kenya. The photo itself was meant to drive home the greed and ruthlessness with which elephants are culled for their ivory, and the steps taken to try to stop it from entering the marketplace; tusk burnings are a popular manner of sending a signal to poachers and the larger black market about the unacceptability of the practice. But Burtynsky’s work displayed in 3D allows for an enhanced experience for the user; it becomes more real, more life-sized. The hope of the exhibition was to highlight the use of digital technologies as a way to drive home the seriousness that 2D and other traditional mediums cannot. The tactile nature of many of the exhibits makes the exhibit and Burtynsky’s exhibit unique. However, there were criticisms that the exhibit didn’t leave visitors with a sense of what could be done to help as individuals and communities.


Aesthetic/Leisure, Illegal Resource Extraction, Psychology, Visual Technologies