Climate change art


in Art, Politics, Science, The environment

Plants, rust, concrete

Do we need climate change art?

I would say we do. Art inspires people to think beyond their experience and grasp the implications of trends. It also motivates people emotionally in a way that scientific analysis can be hard-pressed to do. (Indeed, does only by accident, since scientific reports are not written to evoke emotional responses.)

Has any important climate change art emerged? (Weird sculpture outside 111 Sussex aside) Is there a danger that art that plays upon the worst fears evoked by climate science will be counterproductive? Can art help us to really grasp the danger, without the need for costly disasters to prove the link from greenhouse gasses to climate change to danger to humanity?

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

La Canadienne August 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Well, I don’t know about climate change art, but I love your photo of the day here.

Milan August 6, 2009 at 7:04 am


It’s on the eastern sidewalk of Booth Street, near the Chaudiere Bridge.

Tristan August 6, 2009 at 7:11 pm

I think you are right-on in your account of the function of art. The only thing I would add is to emphasize “beyond experience” to include enlarging, or en-richening experience. I don’t know much about the contemporary art scene with respect to climate change, but would be interested to see contemporary works reckoning with this issue. In general I’m under the impression that whereas previous environmental art and concepts emphasised fragility (i.e. spaceship earth), the next/current phase will stress responsibility, stewardship, gravitas – like this for example:

Tristan August 6, 2009 at 7:31 pm

This blog might be a place to start:

. August 8, 2009 at 2:13 pm


Eco-art: an exploration

Thanks to Milan Ilnyckyj, whose blog on climate change art blazed this trail. I spent a couple of hours chasing links and looking up old notes — but this is only a sampling. Suggest other links in your comments.

Antonia August 10, 2009 at 5:44 am

The V&A design exhibition ‘Telling Tales’ had at least a few pieces commenting on man’s relationship with the environment and climate change. I seem to remember a lot of other UK stuff vaguely but would have to hunt for examples.

Antonia August 10, 2009 at 5:44 am

Love that shot btw :)

Claire August 10, 2009 at 7:23 am

At Glastonbury Festival this year, in the Children’s area, kids had been busy on an art project where they turned recycled objects into minature wind-turbines, which together created a mini-wind farm.

. September 24, 2009 at 9:39 am

Lamp that runs on human blood

By Cory Doctorow on Green

Mike Thompson’s “Blood Lamp” is a single-use lantern that draws its energy from a drop of your blood, making you consider the cost of energy in a uniquely personal way.

For the lamp to work one breaks the top off, dissolves the tablet, and uses their own blood to power a simple light. By creating a lamp that can only be used once, the user must consider when light is needed the most, forcing them to rethink how wasteful they are with energy, and how precious it is.

. November 19, 2009 at 9:47 am

Cape Farewell has brought together leading artists, writers, scientists, educators and media for a series of expeditions into the wild and challenging High Arctic. Together they have mapped, measured and been inspired by this awesome environment and have endeavoured to bring home stories and artworks that tell how a warming planet is impacting on this wilderness.

Antonia December 2, 2009 at 11:57 am

There are a lot of climate change awareness art pieces out there. I have been collecting a few links, of which I think I like this the most. I may add the others later.

Antonia December 11, 2009 at 3:44 pm
Antonia December 18, 2009 at 12:28 pm
Milan December 18, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Oxford had something similar, two years ago.

. March 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm

“Recognizing the importance of creative expression in our movement, It’s Getting Hot In Here is hosting a month-long series called “Create Our Climate,” which will feature video, poetry, prose, visual art and music from this community. If you have already created such a piece and want to share it, sign up! If you want to specifically create a piece for this series, sign up!”

. March 22, 2011 at 10:27 pm

HONG KONG — A leading anti-pollution campaign group in Hong Kong is deploying a new weapon in the fight for clean air in this Asian financial hub: art.

Enlisting the support of 40 artists and the auction house Sotheby’s, the Clean Air Network has organized an auction of 51 environment-inspired works of modern art in what it says is the first awareness and fund-raising event of its kind.

Most of the pieces went on display Monday in the upscale International Finance Center shopping mall in Hong Kong’s financial district, where they will remain until March 27. They will go under the Sotheby’s hammer April 4, where they will form part of the auction house’s twice-yearly sale of contemporary Asian art .

. May 25, 2011 at 6:10 pm
. April 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm

The uses of photography in a crisis
posted by Bridget McKenzie

. November 13, 2015 at 6:18 pm
. June 10, 2016 at 3:32 am

Let the Images Imagine
Potential Roles for the Arts in the Approach to Climate Change
Rob Roggema


. November 7, 2017 at 2:54 pm

“Despite the differences between art and science, it can be argued that climate change art could support the uptake of climate science as it emphasizes the emotional motivation it considers. The question of whether we need climate change art was raised by Milan Ilnyckyj, who refers to the way art expands experiential horizons and motivates people emotionally in contrast to the sciences, where this appears only occasionally (2009). Ilnyckyj formulates a set of significant questions, including: ‘Has any important climate change art emerged? Is there a danger that art that plays upon the worst fears evoked by climate science will be counterproductive?’ (2009)— not only in relation to creating bad art, but also by instilling fear that in itself does not lead to positive action. “

. July 18, 2019 at 4:23 pm

The tallest story
Can the novel handle a subject as cataclysmic as climate change?
Writers are coming to appreciate the theme’s urgency—and its narrative possibilities

. October 7, 2019 at 8:04 pm

The world’s best known climate-change artist is Olafur Eliasson. He began his career at 15, selling gouaches of landscapes he had encountered on walks with his Icelandic father, a painter. Later he photographed shrinking glaciers and polluted rivers. But it was his experiments with geometry and architecture, beginning in his late 20s, that led Mr Eliasson to make big conceptual pieces that use light, water and varying temperatures to create sensory experiences for his audiences. The “Weather Project” (2003) employed a vast “sun” to flood the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London with yellow light, hinting at a future of ever higher temperatures. Audiences threw themselves into the performance. They lay on the floor, made star shapes with their bodies and took endless selfies—forms of engagement that have since become the norm at exhibitions around the world.

The “Weather Project” was the first large-scale effort to deal with climate change in contemporary art. Fifteen years later, Mr Eliasson brought 24 massive chunks of ice from Greenland to the banks of the Thames in a work called “Ice Watch London”. As the ice melted outside Tate Modern, performance and protest fused. “I believe in challenging people’s perspectives and the numbness of the political sphere,” Mr Eliasson says. He notes that far more people saw the installation in London than would have done in Greenland—but some critics pointed out the cost in energy of transporting the ice across the Atlantic (there were installations in Copenhagen and Paris, too).

. October 9, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Mural painted atop Mount Royal an act of ‘artistic civil disobedience’ in face of climate crisis

Atikamekw artist designed mural to promote protection of the Earth

. November 25, 2019 at 7:43 pm
. December 19, 2019 at 2:54 pm
. November 12, 2020 at 9:34 pm

Holograms of award-winning vocalists take flight as virtual reality dance show tackles climate change | South China Morning Post

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