Anthropocene’s Jennifer Baichwal ponders the demented argument between technology and nature

By Adrian Mack | Georgia Straight


Of the many technical wonders that we see in Anthropocene: The Human Epoch—if wonder is the right word— the Bagger 288 might be the most awe-inspiring.

A bucket-wheel excavator that crawls implacably across the vast Tagebau Hambach open-pit coal mine in Germany, it looks like a gargantuan shopping mall on wheels that ravages and consumes the Earth. If you dropped it into Blade Runner 2049, it would stretch credulity.

“Talk about scale,” comments Jennifer Baichwal, calling the Georgia Straight from Ottawa. “That mine has destroyed towns and highways in its expansion, but the Bagger is the largest human-made machine on the planet. Each one of the buckets in that wheel can hold a small car. That’s how big it is. We were trying to shoot it, and whenever it moved, the ground shook. We used to think the sublime came from nature, these majestic forces of nature, but in that case nature is dwarfed by human creation. Here is this massive, terrifying thing that is made by us.”

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