Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Striking Images Of The Oil Economy (Now At Your Fingertips)

Check out some of the pictures from Edward Burtynsky’s award-winning series, "Oil," now available in an iPad app.

  • <p>A scene of oil extraction.</p>
  • <p>A landscape marred by the ravages of drilling for oil.</p>
  • <p>Oil derricks in the desert.</p>
  • <p>An abandoned factory in Detroit.</p>
  • <p>An abandoned factory in Detroit.</p>
  • <p>An oil spill in Mexico.</p>
  • <p>Fighting an oil rig explosion.</p>
  • <p>Disassembling oil tankers.</p>
  • <p>A worker at the oil tanker graveyard.</p>
  • <p>Detritus from the ship breakdowns.</p>
  • <p>Super fast cars in the desert, running on oil.</p>
  • <p>Traffic, powered by oil.</p>
  • 01 /12

    A scene of oil extraction.

  • 02 /12

    A landscape marred by the ravages of drilling for oil.

  • 03 /12

    Oil derricks in the desert.

  • 04 /12

    An abandoned factory in Detroit.

  • 05 /12

    An abandoned factory in Detroit.

  • 06 /12

    An oil spill in Mexico.

  • 07 /12

    Fighting an oil rig explosion.

  • 08 /12

    Disassembling oil tankers.

  • 09 /12

    A worker at the oil tanker graveyard.

  • 10 /12

    Detritus from the ship breakdowns.

  • 11 /12

    Super fast cars in the desert, running on oil.

  • 12 /12

    Traffic, powered by oil.

From forming our plastic bags to making our cars run, oil is one of the most ubiquitous substances in our economy—and our world. It’s sheen can be seen everywhere. But because of its ubiquity, it can be hard to know all the places it lurks. Aside from moments like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, where oil is literally pumping from the ground before our eyes, there are few visual indications of all the oil we’re using.

Edward Burtynsky’s photo series, Oil, does a good job of changing this view, by showing the entire oil economy, from the process of extraction to Detroit workers designing cars to run on it. Burtynsky’s work has always shown man’s influence on nature, from his series on mines to another series on quarries. Burtynsky won the 2005 TED Prize for his work, and has since produced Oil.

You can click through some images from Oil above. They are just a selection from the new Oil iPad app, which allows you to thumb through and zoom around more than 100 photos from the series.