“It appears that Edmund Husserl’s idea of the earth as ‘original ark’ is now obsolete; we now have to recalibrate our sensorial systems to adjust to contradiction, catastrophe, and ecological volatility born of human activities that override and neutralize long-standing histories of local knowledge.…The Anthropocene has altered the terms and parameters of perception itself.”

—Amanda Boetzkes, Art in the Anthropocene1

Art historian Amanda Boetzkes is referring here to Inuit communities in the Arctic who can no longer read their environment due to global warming, and must therefore change their subsistence rituals. They must “recalibrate [their] sensorial systems to adjust.” How do other communities and individuals who live far from these phenomenological realities read different kinds of environmental trauma? Artists Edward Burtynsky and Justin Brice Guariglia challenge and alter our perceptions of anthropogenic landscapes in their photo-based art of industrial mining sites around the world. In this essay I discuss...

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