Art in all its forms is a powerful means of communication. The arts help overcome barriers of language and culture, and they provide a creative pathway for debating and exploring global problems. For young people concerned with climate change, the arts offer a way to reach out and raise awareness among their friends, in their communities, and in the world beyond.
This issue of the Asia-Pacific Mountain Courier is devoted to artistic means of expression related to youth and climate. It builds on the previous issue on youth and climate published in November 2010, which focused on youth views, understanding, and climate change activities.
The contributions include posters, photo essays, illustrations, and other art works. They are drawn from youth leaders and youth motivators affiliated to several networks promoting youth engagement in sustainability, climate action, and the mountain agenda. Many of the contributions are drawn from the Youth Forum #150; Empowering Youth with Earth Observation Information for Climate Actions, held from 1 to 6 October 2010 at ICIMOD in Kathmandu, and the Asia-Pacific Forum: Youth Action on Climate Change; Exploration through Cultural Expression, organised by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) from 24 to 27 January 2011 in Bangkok.
ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
“Calling artists to sketch a climate change design that will be created
using thousands of people in an iconic place threatened by climate change.”
***Deadline: September 6 2010 (midnight PST)***
In November 2010, 350.org will organize 20 simultaneous public art pieces that are massive enough to be seen from space and located on the front-lines of the climate crisis – our sinking coastlines, endangered forests, melting glaciers, and polluted cities. We’re looking to recruit top and up-and-coming artists to design these images. Each public art piece will be photographed by satellite and on site. The images will be widely distributed to mainstream media outlets around the world. 350.org is one of the few organizations in the world with the grassroots network to pull off such an ambitious project. In 2009, we organized over 5,200 events in more than 180 countries, what CNN dubbed “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.”
To pierce the consciousness of the world on the eve of the next round of the United Nation Climate Talks, that we need action from our world’s leaders to get us to 350.
What the *%#? is 350?
350 is the parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere that we need to ensure that life as we currently know it continues. Some say it’s the most important number in the world. In 2008 NASA’s James Hansen reported that we need to keep the CO2 level in the atmosphere below 350 parts per million if we want a planet “similar to the one on which civilization developed, and to which life is adapted.” We’re at 390 now. Yikes.
To learn more about 350 please see below or visit: www.350.org
We invite you to sketch a climate change inspired design that we will create using thousands of people in an iconic place threatened by climate change. Your design will be captured via satellite and shared with the world.
Below are some basic parameters to consider for creating the design.
MATERIALS – We respect that each artist works within their own medium, but for this particular project, we would like to incorporate the people in 350’s amazing international grassroots network to realize your design, in essence have people physically make up some or all of your design with their bodies. 350.org can organize several thousand people to participate. Because the designs will be captured from the sky, designs that have sharp contrast and bright colors are more likely to pop and be picked up by satellite. Designs can also be a combination of humans + materials.
SIZE – The ideal minimum size for capturing the art via satellite is roughly equivalent to a soccer field,
e.g. 110 meters x 70 meters (120 yards x 75 yards).
The Nitty Gritty of “Sculpting with People”: Each pixel in the satellite photo is 60cm x 60cm which translates into all “lines” for forming the designs ideally being at least 2 meters x 2 meters. If you are using humans, this means each “line” should be at least 5-10 people wide, (note this assumes the people are standing). If your design involves people lying down or incorporating materials into the design, these numbers might shift.
TIME OF DAY – The satellite images can be taken during the day or at night. (If you’re considering a nighttime installation involving illumination, we encourage artists to consider light sources that are not energy intensive.)
“350” We encourage (but do not require), artists to find a way to incorporate this critical number into their piece. If artists opt not to incorporate 350 into the design, we ask that the number be placed on the side as a signature. Artists can also engage traditional number systems to display the image, or investigate the concept of ¨parts per million¨.
Note: In order for 350 to be captured by satellite, the number needs to be at least 50ft x 30ft or 15m x 40m
Below is a list of the current locations where we will be creating the designs as well as climate change issues important to these regions:
Los Angeles, California
Desert, New Mexico
Gulf of Mexico (most likely on the water collaborating with fisherman and fishing boats)
Midwest – location tbd
Cancun (issue – sea level rise)
Altiplano near La Paz
Clearcut in Jungle (issue – deforestation) or City – Sao Paulo
Note because of limited daylight in November this will most likely be a light installation
Desert outside of Cairo
Mumbai (issue water and sea level rise)
Maldives (issue sea level rise)
Shanghai or Beijing
Antarctica (issue massive ice melt)
Although 350.org cannot monetarily compensate artists, we will give artists full recognition for their designs as well as support and augment artists’ work in a multitude of ways:
REALIZE YOUR CONCEPT
350.org has an international grassroots network of people who can realize your concept.
350.org has a stellar communications team with a successful track record of garnering press for their international actions. For example, last October, 350.org coordinated 5200 simultaneous demonstrations around the world, what CNN called ‘the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history’ on any issue. Due to 350.org communications team, these actions were also widely covered by a wealth of media outlets from local to global media giants like CNN.
350.org is an international campaign that’s building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that science and justice demand.
Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.
Our focus is on the number 350–as in parts per million CO2. If we can’t get below that, scientists say, the damage we’re already seeing from global warming will continue and accelerate. But 350 is more than a number–it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.
Entries will be judged using the following criteria:
a. Effectiveness in communicating a climate change message with a creative image.
b. Likelihood the design can be created in the specific sites 350.org has identified.
c. Likelihood the image will easily be captured by satellite according to the aforementioned guidelines.
Designs must be original work created by the artists. By submitting a design to 350.org’s EARTH, artists are granting 350.org permission to use this design for the 350.org EARTH project. 350.org will give full credit to the artists whose designs we use.
METHOD for SUBMITTING ART
Please note that we will only be able to accept online submissions: www.350.org/earth
We will be contacting artists whose designs we will be creating, Monday, September 13, 2010. Please note that due to our limited capacity, we will be unable to respond to non-finalists.
For questions please e-mail EARTH@350.org. Please note it may take us several days to respond to your questions.
350.org would like to thank the Artist Philip Krohn who conceptualized the EARTH logo, for granting 350.org permission to use this image for 350.org’s EARTH.
Mathematical Nature Painting: Nested, 2008 by Keith Tyson
Contemporary art about climate change is still sometimes seen as the frivolous dilettante who has showed up late to what it thinks might be an interesting party.
Writing about both the Royal Academy’s Earth: of a changing world and RETHINK Contemporary art and climate change exhibitions in today’s Guardian in an article titledThe Rise of Climate Change Art, Madeleine Bunting states, “Some activists have wondered why the art world has been slow to grasp the significance of climate change.”
Actually, activists think everyone is slow to grasp everything, but anyway… It’s less that art has been slow to grasp the significance, more that art rarely produces the kind of loud kazoom that activism does – or wants it to.
To many this remains a source of huge frustration. James Mariott of Platform, which programmed the lively 100 Days strand at the Arnolfini in the run up to COP15, expresses continued frustration at the artworld’s timidity.
“The arts stumble along the fault line between representation and transformation,” Marriot said to Bunting. “But, until 50 or so years ago, all art was about transformation and persuasion. Look at Goya: he wanted to persuade you of the horrors of war.”
Almost the polar opposite view comes eloquently from artist Keith Tyson. Tyson told Bunting how he had gone to a lecture on climate change at Cern, Swizterland. To hear scientists talking baldly among themselves about the true graveness of our situation was an experience he recalls as “terrifying”. But still he does not quite see himself as one of Marriott’s more focused “persuaders”:
“[The role of art] is not to advocate solutions. It is something much deeper and more subtle – to make us reflect and rethink what it is to be a human being in the 21st century. We don’t have that much power. It’s nature that creates us. That’s the kind of education too subtle to put on a syllabus: that’s the important role of art.”
Earth: Art of a changing world was also on this morning’s Today programme, there reporter David Sillito gave a third view of what art could be doing at the party, claiming: “For those who are immune to debates in science and politics, culture – art, songs, stories jokes – can have a power far greater than any scientific paper.”
Art, Sillito seems to be saying, has the disruptive power to reach the mass unconverted by activism and reason.
You see, it’s not so much that art is even late to the party. But it is true that at times art is not exactly sure what it is doing there.
In a few days the Culture|Futures symposium kicks off in Copenhagen. The symposium, led by the Danish Cultural Institute and a partnership of arts organisations from around the world, is based on the premise that the scale of the transition to the environmental age is so massive that just waiting for the right technological or political solution to show it self is not enough. It requires fundamental cultural change, and very fast change.
It’s a chance for the symposium to start asking those pesky student union bar questions that could help us understand what, if any, art’s role in int he transition is going to be. Does the kind of activist art James Marriott has curated at Bristol actually change any minds – if so, where’s the evidence for that? Do “deep and subtle” explorations make any difference outside a gallery or theatre? Is art really a shortcut to the unconvinced? Do we even have the time to be “deep and subtle?”
Apologies for the hiatus over the last few days: swine flu.
The Arts (music, poetry, theater and film) are one of the best vehicle in which to reach specific target audiences with your message. Hollywood films (An Inconvenient Truth), Live Aid, and Rock the Vote are some examples that come to mind. However, I think we’re only just scratching the surface and need to more fully integrate sustainability messages into cultural programming. Someone needs to create a Sustainability Hip Hop Dance that rivals the Macarena. Maybe the movements could simulate recycling?