Before I left for my first visit to China, a friend told me that it would change my life. After a few days there I started to understand what he meant.

China is a country of 1.4 billion people. When I visited in 2008, its economy was growing at ten percent annually. They were frantically preparing for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Beijing. The centuries-old infrastructure -- both physical and social -- was being torn down and rebuilt at a rate as staggering as the quantity of resources being consumed.

China is the factory of the world. Its people work around the clock to make products for the rest of us, and they are paying a massive price for doing so. While the flat yellow haze that hung over Beijing provided beautifully soft, filtered light for photography, every toxic breath was a disturbing reminder of the countless material objects that have been made, bought, consumed, and forgotten.