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Philosophy at the Virtual Art Museum

Using art to prompt philosophical discussions in the high school classroom.

Teacher Guide

Nickel Tailings #30, Sudbury, Ontario

Edward Burtynsky, 1996
FILTERS: Photography

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Questions for Philisophical Discussion

  1. What elements of this photograph stand out for you?
  2. Do you think this photograph is beautiful?
  3. What attitude do you think the photographer has towards nature?
  4. How does finding out that the intense colors in this photograph are due to toxic chemicals that have been dumped onto the land affect your appreciation of it?
  5. What are the most significant differences you see between a painting and a photograph? Do you think that photographs are more (or less) realistic than paintings? What exactly does this claim mean? Are there different ways in which a photograph or painting can be realistic?
  6. In what sense do you think photographs resemble the things they are of? Are they different than paintings in this way?
  7. Do you trust a photograph more than you trust a painting? In what way(s)? Why? Are there ways in which you trust paintings more than photographs?

Additional Resources

More information and images from the Nickel Tailing series

Photography Overview and Resources

Photography is an art form that came into existence in the mid-nineteenth century. At the outset, photography consisted of the recording of light on a photo-sensitive emulsion. In recent decades, digital technology has replaced the photo-chemical one, transforming the nature of photography. Because photography reproduced reality in a naturalistic manner, it caused a crisis in traditional painting and the art world at large.

Resources on photography from the Museum of Modern Art


Timeline for the history of photography

Statement of Intent: This website was developed for non-commercial, educational purposes. Every effort has been made to prioritize using images currently in the public domain, and to correctly attribute all images, including those still under copyright. Contact us if you find an image to be in violation of copyright, or in violation of a donor agreement. Images will be promptly removed while the claim is investigated.

Edward Burtynsky, Nickel Tailings #30, Sudbury, Ontario, 1996
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Edward Burtynsky, Nickel Tailings #30, Sudbury, Ontario, 1996
Download & Print Send Via Email
Edward Burtynsky, Nickel Tailings #30, Sudbury, Ontario, 1996

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