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.