Edward Burtynsky


“If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.”

In February 2005, Canadian photo-artist Edward Burtynsky accepted the inaugural TED Prize — three wishes to change the world. Granted $100,000 and the opportunity to team with several major companies pledging to help the recipients fulfill the wishes, Burtynsky and fellow winners (acclaimed musician and Global Activist Bono and medical technologies pioneer Robert Fischell) were instructed to wish for anything — “Think big. Be Creative. No restrictions.”

In his first wish, Burtynsky proposed that he would use his artwork to persuade millions of people to join a productive global conversation about sustainability. Burtynsky launched a viral e-mail to encourage millions to contribute to a worldwide discussion-in-progress about sustainable living. TheScreamOnline is proud to have granted this wish by featuring a compelling gallery of his photography to our vast community of readers around the world.

Burtynsky’s goal for Wish Two was to raise environmental consciousness in grade school kids and to empower them to propose solutions and act upon them. He announced that he would launch a ground-breaking competition throughout North America called “In My World,” challenging kids to invent new ideas in sustainable living.

In Wish Three, Burtynsky questioned how to extend his artwork’s environment-oriented subject matter to an audience that wouldn’t normally visit galleries and museums where his work is normally viewed. To achieve this, Mr. Burtynsky wished to translate his work to film format in order to make an Imax film.

TED Community members were invited to contribute their ideas and resources to help make the wishes come true; Burtynsky’s entire prize winnings have gone toward realizing the wishes.

This was the first time the TED Community had offered this landmark award. TED is a conference where 50 speakers offer their greatest ideas, inventions, and passions to an audience of critical thinkers. For more details about TED, the TED Prize, and the Sapling Foundation go to www.ted.com.


“Watermark” is a feature documentary from multiple-award-winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier and renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky, marking their second collaboration after “Manufactured Landscapes” in 2006. The film brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use.