with climate change
In 2020 alone, a combination of droughts and a raging bark beetle infestation spurred by the climate crisis diminished Germany’s spruce tree population by record numbers. The European nation lost an estimated 4.3 percent of the evergreen species, which tend to grow in both commercial and naturally established forests in the Bavarian Alps and along the southeastern border. Photographer Kilian Schönberger (previously) visited these regions in the early part of 2021 to shed light on the enchanting beauty of the wooded areas that are undergoing substantial transformations.
Endorsement for Spruce Forests captures the species’ ethereal nature as sunlight filters through fog and morning mist, casting a warm candy-colored glow on the landscape. Pink light illuminates the barren branches that splay outward alongside trees covered in needles, while other shots show the rough, labyrinth-like paths that wind through the hilly terrain. Despite their durable material, the spruce take on a delicate, gentle quality in Schönberger’s photos, which are informed by his understanding of the trees’ natural rhythms:
Huge woods were destroyed by the bark beetle within a few weeks. Since the lowlands are not the natural habitat of the spruce the bark beetles just restored the balance of nature… In the Eastern Bavarian mountain ranges with higher precipitation, I was looking for natural spruce forests and found a wood wonderland. That’s the area where almost homogeneous spruce forests will also grow in the next decades.
Schönberger frequently travels from his home in the Bavarian Alps across Europe, and you can follow his adventures on Instagram. Prints of Endorsement for Spruce Forests are also available on his site.
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Earthrise: A Striking New Collection by Iris Van Herpen Recycles Plastic Waste into Sculptural Garments
Iris Van Herpen (previously) continues to blend fashion and science in her latest collection of dizzying garments that explore the fragility of marine ecosystems. Earthrise, which debuted at Paris Haute Couture Week on July 5, is comprised of 19 gowns teeming with the Dutch designer’s signature layers and structural flourishes. Exquisite and elaborately constructed, the garments seamlessly merge aquatic motifs and colors into a dynamic collection focused on preserving the environment in both aesthetic and material.
Five of the designs, including the hand-cut gradient dress shown below, are made entirely of recycled plastics sourced from Parley for the Oceans (previously), which is working to protect the planet’s bodies of water from pollution and further degradation. Other pieces in the collection are the product of collaborations with artists like Rogan Brown (previously), who brought his laser-cut reliefs resembling coral reefs and microbial structures to the lace-like gowns, while Casey Curran (previously) produced kinetic stripes that ripple across one dress in a mesmerizing blue-to-white gradient. Artist James Merry (previously) is responsible for the futuristic metal jewelry, while Eichi Matsunaga created the long, bulbous nails designs.
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Venture back to the sights of 1984 with Google Earth’s new timelapse tool. Released just in time for Earth Day, the addition reveals our collective mark on the planet during the last three decades and provides visual evidence of urban sprawl and the devastating effects of deforestation, mining, and agricultural growth in both 2- and 3-D. For those interested in checking out some of the most profoundly impacted areas, Google released a curated selection of videos that are categorized by theme and location, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Jirau Dam, Brazil to the Tucker And Whitehall Glaciers in Antarctica. (via Uncrate)
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Last summer, The New York Times Magazine published a series of articles declaring that climate migration—a global exodus that’s predicted to displace between 50 and 300 million people worldwide—has begun. As more regions surrounding the equator become uninhabitable due to rising temperatures, crop losses, and disasters, entire populations will be forced to relocate to regions with more stable environments and economies. This impending movement coupled with an ongoing lack of affordable housing has sparked a wave of conversation about how best to remedy the looming crisis.
As a partial antidote, a Bologna-based studio, Mario Cucinella Architects, teamed up with the 3D-printing company WASP to design a low-carbon home that’s easily and quickly reproduced. Called “Tecla,” the prototype is a pair of sloping domes that can be built in only 200 hours using an average of six kilowatt-hours of energy. It’s made of 350 layers of coiled clay, which is sourced from a nearby river, that serves as thermal insulation for the earthen structure complete with a living area, kitchen, and sleeping quarters. Two skylights embedded in the roof of the 4.2-meter-tall domes allow light to enter the 60-square-meter space.
A short video from WASP documents the construction technique in Massa Lombarda, which involves two synchronized printing arms that glide back and forth to layer the walls. Producing almost no waste, the process is adaptable to other raw materials, making it a viable option for housing beyond the Italian region.
Find a larger collection of Mario Cucinella Architects’ and WASP’s climate-focused projects and looks into their processes on Instagram. You also might enjoy this 3D-printed home by Rael San Fratello. (via Dezeen)
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Two Imposing Cubes Covered in Yellow Plastic by Artist Serge Attukwei Clottey Respond to Global Water Insecurity
A mottled patchwork of plastic cloaks two cubes that tower over the desert landscape of Coachella Valley. Titled “The Wishing Well,” the bright pair are the work of Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, who created the nine-foot pieces from scraps of Kufuor gallons, or jerrycans, in response to shared struggles with water insecurity that ripple across the world. Resembling a yellow brick road, a paved walkway connects the two woven structures that stand in contrast to the surrounding environment, which faces continual struggles with access to the natural resource.
Clottey’s use of the material is tied to a larger critique of colonialism’s enduring legacy and the ways it continues to affect populations around the world, particularly in relation to the climate crisis. Originally, European colonialists brought Kufuor gallons to Ghana to transport cooking oil. Today, the plastic vessels are ubiquitous and used to haul potable water. “As repurposed relics of the colonial project, they serve as a constant reminder of the legacies of empire and of global movements for environmental justice,” says a statement about the work that’s part of Desert X, a biennial bringing site-specific installations to Southern California.
“The Wishing Well” is one facet of Clottey’s larger Afrogallonism project, which he describes as “an artistic concept to explore the relationship between the prevalence of the yellow oil gallons in regards to consumption and necessity in the life of the modern African.” The Accra-based artist works in a variety of mediums spanning installation, sculpture, and performance that deal with the broader influence of colonialism in Africa. You can see a larger collection of his pieces on Artsy and Instagram.
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Herb Williams addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time—uncontrollable fires, hurricanes, and an impending lack of natural resources, to name a few—through an unusually playful medium. The Nashville-based artist creates colorful sculptures and busts from innumerable crayons, assembling textured works that simultaneously display the ubiquitous childhood tool while confronting the ongoing effects of the climate crisis.
Similar to the large-scale flames he created in response to Texas wildfires nearly a decade ago, Williams’ new pieces, like the river-stone-encircled campfire above, are based in collective experience. He writes:
The epic catastrophes, disasters, and pandemic are virtually impossible to navigate as adults, so I am trying to create works that will help children understand and eventually deal, most hopefully solve what we can’t one day. I’m exploring the myths we cling to comfort, deny or manage our way through without losing our collective humanity.
“First Fire” pairs with Three Graces of Climate Change, a trio of figurative sculptures that reinterpret the “Venus de Milo” through the lenses of wildfires, glacial melt, and deforestation. In one piece, bright blazes erupt from the shoulder and hip, and in another, the figure is sliced in two to reveal age rings similar to those of a tree.
Williams currently is working on six sculptures that’ll be on display at Atlanta International Airport. He’s also the curator at Nashville’s Rymer Gallery, where you can find a larger collection of his works.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.