Climate change art
Climate change art is art inspired by climate change and global warming, generally intended to overcome humans' hardwired tendency to value personal experience over data and to disengage from data-based representations by making the data "vivid and accessible". The intention is to "make an emotional connection...through the power of art".
Climate change art is created both by scientists and by non-scientist artists. The field overlaps with data art.
The Guardian said that in response to a backlash in the 1990s against fossil fuels and nuclear plants, major energy companies stepped up their philanthropic giving, including to arts organizations, "to a point where many major national institutions were on the payroll of the fossil fuel giants," effectively silencing many environmentally-focussed artists. In 2009 they said the art world was "waking up to climate-change art."
Effects and influence
Journalist Betsy Mason wrote in Knowable that humans are visual creatures by nature, absorbing information in graphic form that would elude them in words, adding that bad visuals can impair public understanding of science. Similarly, Bang Wong, creative director of MIT’s Broad Institute, stated that visualizations can reveal patterns, trends and connections in data that are difficult or impossible to find any other way.
In particular, climate change art has been used, both to make scientific data more accessible to non-scientists, and to express people’s fears. Some research indicates that climate change art is not particularly effective in changing peoples views, though art with a "hopeful" message gives people ideas for change. Projecting a positive message, climate scientist Ed Hawkins said that "infiltrating popular culture is a means of triggering a change of attitude that will lead to mass action".
It is thought that people who engage with climate change art feel a sense of belonging, a feeling of connection to a cause, and a sense of empowerment. Participatory climate change art, such as downloading warming stripes graphics for one's own locality or using a climate-related logo, provides an interactive element that gets people involved.
In 2007, artist Eve Mosher used a sports-field chalk marker to draw a blue "high-water" line around Manhattan and Brooklyn, showing the areas that would be underwater if climate change predictions are realized. Her HighWaterLine Project has since drawn high-water lines around Bristol, Philadelphia, and two coastal cities in Florida.
In 2013, undergraduate cellist Daniel Crawford created "Song of Our Warming Planet" in which musical notes, representing annual global average surface temperature readings since 1880, ascend to higher and higher pitches as the song progresses.
In 2016, Ed Hawkins, a scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and the University of Reading, created "climate spirals," a series of data art representations of global warming, and followed in 2018 with "warming stripes," a series of colored stripes representing chronologically ordered average annual temperature anomalies for a given location.
Starting in 2017 The Tempestry Project encouraged fiber artists to create "tempestries", scarf-size banners showing temperature change over time. Each tempestry is knitted or crocheted, one row per day in a color representing that day's high temperature, for a year. Two or more tempestries for the same location, each representing different years, are displayed together to show daily high temperature change over time.
In 2018 artist Xavier Cortada's project Underwater Home Owner's Association placed signs in front yards throughout Miami, Florida indicating each property's height above sea level to illustrate what sea level rise would flood that property.
In 2019, the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, launched its inaugural Grantham Art Prize, commissioning original works by six artists who collaborated with climate researchers. Each piece aimed to provoke thought and conversation about the climate crisis.
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