Artists Respond to Climate Change In Creative Ways

Climate change is real. It is happening. We all feel it, we see it, and new evidence is published daily. Yet, still governments across the globe seem to rank the topic low on their list of priorities.

So low that many people still don’t know the difference between climate and weather, and whether humans are actually playing a role. The Guardian does a good job distinguishing the two, saying, that “climate, like weather, describes the state of the atmosphere in terms of factors such as temperature, wind and rainfall. But whereas weather describes conditions as measured in hours, days or weeks, the climate is average weather conditions measured over the longer term: months, years or decades.”

While it is true that humans are not the sole cause of climate change, we are definitely not helping by any means. To raise awareness, and get people thinking about solutions, a number of artists from all over the world are taking matters in their own hands.

This sculpture below is one of many of related works created by Isaac Cordal and one of my favorites. It shows that all of the bickering by politicians and the constant denial of climate change, in the end, is no match for mother nature. This sculpture makes me wonder how long will it take for the masses to open their eyes?

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Another artist, by the name of Simon Armitage caught my attention —well really blew my mind— with his  contribution of a poem that purifies the air. Yes, you read it right. Armitage’s In Praise of Air has been printed on a 10m by 20m piece of material which has been coated with microscopic pollution-eating particles of titanium dioxide. These use sunlight and oxygen to react with nitrogen oxide pollutants and purify the air, with the material said by the University of Sheffield, which devised it, to be capable of absorbing the pollution from 20 cars every day. (Allison Flood, 2014)

Simon Armitage's In Praise of Air, displayed outside the University of Sheffield. Photograph: Linda Bussey

Simon Armitage’s In Praise of Air, displayed outside the University of Sheffield. Photograph: Linda Bussey

These are just a few of the artists using their craft to inform people of the impact and consequences of global warming. You can view more amazing pieces here.

Cleo reading Tome II, 2009. Basia Irland makes giant books out of ice and releases them in rivers. The ‘text’ of each book is seeds from local plants; as the ice melts, seeds are released and the plants start to grow by the rivers

For The Lake Project, David Maisel photographed Owens Lake, once a 200-square-mile lake in California, which was depleted in the early 20th century to give water to Los Angeles. What little water remains has such a high concentration of minerals, and such bacterial growth, that it is now a deep blood red.

For Champs d’Ozone (2007) HeHe – Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen – overlaid live images of the Paris skyline with vibrant colours that showed the unseen pollutants in the air. Sensors placed around the city provided live data on air quality, and the colours in the artworks adapted to show real-time Parisian pollution

One arts and science blogger Johanna Kieniewicz questions whether artists can make a difference.

In her blog ‘Plos – where art and science meet’, she says in a blogpost on 25 July 2013, titled Art of Uncertainty’:

“Artists are not going to solve scientists’ problem of communicating uncertainty pertaining to climate change. This is something that scientists themselves need to do, perhaps with help from sociologists and innovative designers. But in so doing, scientists must recognise that in the communication of uncertainty, they must not just win minds, but also hearts. This does not necessarily come naturally. I suspect that there is a great opportunity for artists who are interested in collaborating with scientists to engage in this area.”

Whether artists solve scientist problems or not, they’re definitely making the conscious effort to begin to aid the earth, which many have not. These are some creative individuals. I would have never thought some of these pieces were possible. Do you think art will raise awareness? Or is it back to the drawing boards?

2 thoughts on “Artists Respond to Climate Change In Creative Ways

  1. This is a really cool topic. I like the idea of creating art that interacts with the environment to contribute to purifying the air or water, and these are some awesome photos! I also didn’t really know what the specific difference between weather and climate is before reading this, so I think it’s helpful that you clarify that.

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