Author Archives: Samantha Schatzman

Vik Muniz vs. Edward Burtynsky

The documentaries “Wasteland” and “Manufactured Landscapes” both deal with the same subject, but are different as night and day. Vik Muniz focused entirely on the people and their stories and how their lives intertwined into the landfill in “Wasteland,” whereas “Manufactured Landscapes” gave no background information of any workers, and often had no face with the voice that was on the screen. Muniz’s focus was the people, and what the world’s waste to doing to their lives, whether that meant holding them back or giving them a great life. Burtynsky focused on the actual waste itself, and the effect it had on the economy and landscape.

Project Proposal

Day and night. People change when the sun goes down. I’m not saying everyone is bipolar and has split personalities, but there is a noticeable change when daylight fades to night. There is a different energy in the air. Things can be creepier at night, more menacing. Sunshine brings new life, innocence, purity. I would love to explore the different worlds during the day as opposed to when the world is sleeping. It’s easily noticeable. Walking down the street alone during the day is a totally different experience than walking down the street alone at night. It’s easy to find yourself checking over your shoulder and suspecting every passerby a possible threat when walking alone at night. The street is no different than it was a couple hours before, but the mood, the energy, the life of the street itself has changed. I want to shoot different people and places during the day and again at night to see how they change. Daytime will be in full of color, while night time in black and white.

Natalie Fobes- Story Teller

Pictures are stories. Every picture can tell an entire story, whether the viewer makes it up or a scene plays out in the photograph. It struck me as funny that she was so scared to photograph people when she first started out. She began her speech about how she loved to capture the personality of her subjects, and she wouldn’t have photographed human subjects if her teacher had not pushed her to take a picture of something besides a building. I loved what Natalie Fobes said when she compared photographs in pictures to chocolate in chilly. A little bit of chocolate sprinkled in adds depth to the chile, just like corresponding pictures can bring a story to life. Photographs can radically transform any story.

It was inspiring to see the dedication and determination Natalie had when it came to shooting the Salmon. It took ten years to achieve her goal and it did not sound like an easy task. It seems like she builds a relationship with all her subjects, and really immerses herself in her projects which makes the results so much more personal. The documentation of the oil spill was difficult to watch. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to shoot something like that and become so involved with all the people and animals affected by a tragedy such as that.

Inside Out

JR started his acceptance speech for his TED by announcing, “The world is fucked up.” That is a powerful statement. I applaud him for backing up what he said with his actions. He wanted to help change the world, and I think he did so with amazing style. Starting out as a teenager doing graffiti, and slowly moving to photography, and posters, to sending a heartfelt message with his art is extremely admirable.

I loved when he did the face to face project, and people could not tell apart the two faces. When confronted on the streets by skeptics of his Israeli/Pakistan portraits, he merely asks, “Could you tell me who is who?” And they couldn’t. They made a fuss about having the other ethnicity pasted on a wall in they territory, yet they couldn’t tell who they wanted to take down. I think that speaks volumes about acceptance and tolerance. Having two pictures side by side of two conflicting territories, but the same occupation sent a message out that would not be nearly as effective with words.

The next project of women are heroes was kicked up a notch and the team pasted photos onto even grander scales of stair cases, trains, and even entire hillsides. It was beautiful how the men paid tribute to the women by pasting their photos all over the city. I especially loved his story of their time in India. I thought it was devilishly clever how they pasted white posters on the wall, only to have the dust reveal the true picture after they left.

Inside out is the project he challenged to the whole world. I thought that was great that he wants to involve everyone and anyone who is interested in helping. It bothers me when artists and other groups are so exclusive and want to take all the credit. It shows a lot of character to open up his project to the public, and involve everyone who wants to contribute. It demonstrates his goal in his project is honest and noble, and that he truly wants to help change the world.


I was deeply moved by the documentary film “Wasteland.” I found it very touching when Vik Muniz was discussing his intended trip with his wife, and she was telling him how hard the next couple years would be. He responded with, “It would be harder not to change the life of these people.” I found it extremely generous and compassionate of him to be willing to sacrifice many of life’s luxuries that he had grown accustomed to try and help out some people in need.

I was shocked when I saw the size of the landfill, and even more surprised to see all the people picking through the trash. When someone says ‘landfill’ I picture a huge pile of trash, but I have never heard of recycle pickers. It was tough to see the conditions and filth these people had to work in and how underappreciated they were. It was refreshing to see that they had formed a union, and now had doctors and lawyers for the pickers. Although their line of work required them to walk around and sift through rubbish all day, many of the pickers had a wonderfully positive outlook. I especially connected to the old picker that was the seasoned veteran, talking about the impact of recycling a bottle. He said people always say “It’s just one bottle. It’s not going to make that much of a difference.” To which he replied “Ninety nine is not one hundred.”

It was extremely moving to see all the final pictures, and the reactions of the participants. The works of art were beautiful in themselves, but to see the emotion they evoked and the meaning behind them was beautiful. It was amazing to see the process of the team take a picture either out in the landfill or in the studio, the amount of work and time everyone put into reproducing the picture, and the final product of a photograph in the end.

I appreciated in the end when they were discussing what makes art art, and someone said, “It has to communicate something at least.” I totally agree with that statement. I think truly the best art pieces have a message or some meaning behind them, and the fact that they are relatable contributes to making them so memorable.


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