• Dandora Landfill #3, Plastics Recycling, Nairobi, Kenya 2016. This photo will be presented in simultaneous exhibits at the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada as part of the multimedia Anthropocene Project, created by photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. (Photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto)

Climate change, extinctions, invasive species, the terraforming of land, the redirection of water: all are evidence of the ways human activity has shaped and continues to shape Earth’s natural processes.

Scientists have coined a word to describe this unprecedented age of human impact on the planet: the Anthropocene. Although not yet officially recognized as an epoch on the geological time scale, “Anthropocene” has been used informally to describe anywhere from the last 15,000 to the last 70 years of history — a period of significant and accelerating human-driven change. 

The scale and consequences of our influence upon the Earth are explored in a groundbreaking new multimedia work by three award-winning Canadian artists — photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. Through film, photography, and cutting-edge augmented reality (AR) elements, The Anthropocene Project immerses viewers in the realities of our present age.

The documentary portion of the project, titled Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 6, and will open in select Canadian theatres Sept. 28. The same day, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa will open simultaneous, complementary exhibitions incorporating traditional photographic prints, film and AR installations. 

The AGO exhibition runs until Jan. 6, 2019, while the National Gallery exhibition runs until Feb. 24. 

Earlier this summer, Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and the special guest editor of the November/December issue of Canadian Geographic, sat down with the artists behind The Anthropocene Project to discuss how they harnessed both traditional techniques and emerging technologies to create an immersive experience that asks us to consider the future of humankind.