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Photography

Stark Photographs by Benjamin Dimmitt Show the Ecological Damage of Saltwater Encroachment in Florida’s Wetlands

October 8, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

All photographs © Benjamin Dimmitt, shared with permission of the artist

An Unflinching Look, a documentary photo series by Benjamin Dimmitt, is set in Florida and focuses its gaze on rising sea levels. Dimmitt has been photographing in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge north of Tampa since 2004, after an initial visit more than 30 years ago.

“The dense palm hammocks and hardwood forests were festooned with ferns and orchids and the fresh water creeks were a clear azure,” Dimmitt tells Colossal. But, around 2011, saltwater began leaching into the creeks, due to rising sea levels and the state’s environmental decision-makers. Florida’s water commissioners allowed more fresh water to be drawn into large-scale inland developments and agricultural interests, leaving less for wetlands in the aquifers that feed these essential ecosystems.

“What had been verdant, semi-tropical forest is now mostly an open plain of grasses relieved by palms and dying hardwood trees,” Dimmitt explains. “In 2014, I began to photograph in the salt-damaged sawgrass savannas and spring creeks there as a way of reckoning with the ecosystem loss and of understanding what has become of my native Florida. I have narrowed my focus to a small, remote area that I know and love. My intention in bearing witness to this loss has been to portray the ruined landscape with respect, nuance and beauty.”

In order to create each photograph, Dimmitt canoes into the wetlands, stepping on to land to set up his tripod when possible, or shooting from his canoe if the water is too deep or land too soft. The selenium-toned gelatin silver prints are created with a medium format camera. Dimmitt grew up in a creative household, and his mother was an abstract painter. She gave the photographer his own camera at age 16, and her aesthetic continues to inform Dimmitt’s own practice to this day.

Because Dimmitt has been working in this region for so long, he is able to show the dramatic changes in the landscape over time, as salt-intolerant vegetation has been wiped out by the encroaching ocean water, as documented in the diptychs shown here. The artist tells Colossal that he has a very direct approach to photography, shooting from his eye and his heart. He sought to channel “a hammer in a velvet glove,” creating compelling images that would draw viewers into the larger issues at stake. As part of his artistic practice, Dimmitt also researched saltwater intrusion and spoke with scientists, activists, state water management officials, and locals to gain a full picture of the situation. For the photographer, the experience of documenting the changes in Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge “has been painful and cathartic for me, evoking grief, anger and feelings of loss and mortality.”

An Unflinching Look is part of a current exhibition, “This is Climate Change,” now on view at Southeast Museum of Photography through October 26, 2019. Explore more of the photographer’s portfolio on his website and Instagram. You can also learn more about the buyouts that state governments in regions impacted by climate change are offering people to leave their homes in an incisive article on Bloomberg, and explore “ghost forests” all along the Eastern seaboard in the New York Times.

 

 



Art

Dramatic Pastel Drawings of Shifting Glacial Landscapes by Zaria Forman

October 2, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“Lincoln Sea, Greenland” (2019), soft pastel on paper, 68 x 108 inches

Pastel artist Zaria Forman’s subject of choice is the glacier. The natural phenomenon that occurs around the globe is a critical element of cold-weather ecosystems, as well as a barometer of global climate health. The Brooklyn-based artist travels worldwide, often accompanying scientific expeditions, to experience and document glaciers firsthand, taking thousands of reference photographs to inform her enormous pastel drawings.

In translating her real-world travels on to paper, Forman shares that she draws from memory as well as from her reference photographs. “Occasionally I will re-shape the ice a little, or simplify a busy background to create a balanced composition, but 90% of the time I am depicting the exact scene that I witnessed, because I want to stay true to the landscape that existed at that point in time.”

Forman shares with Colossal that her passion for remote landscapes was sparked in childhood, when she traveled the world with her family—including her fine art photographer mother. As an adult she has channeled this fascination with our planet’s vast and varied landscapes into her art practice.

Climate change is arguably the largest crisis we face as a global society. I feel a responsibility as an artist to address this in my work, especially since I’ve had the rare opportunity to travel to remote places at the forefront of the crisis. Psychology tells us that humans take action and make decisions based on emotion above all else. Studies have shown that art impacts our emotions. I convey the beauty as opposed to the devastation of threatened places in my work. If people can experience the sublimity of these landscapes, perhaps they will be inspired to protect and preserve them.

“Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 68 x 102 inches

Many of the works shown here feature Greenland’s glaciers. Last winter, Forman also re-visited Antactica and Patagonia’s southern ice fields, and she has just started working on a series around Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. “Impressively, Perito Moreno glacier is the third largest reserve of fresh water on the planet, surpassed only by the Antarctic and Greenland Ice sheets,” Forman explains to Colossal. “It also happens to be the only glacier in the southern ice fields that is not retreating. But it’s not advancing, either. I am excited to dive into its details and textures in these new compositions.”

Next summer, Forman’s solo show will be on view at Winston Wächter Fine Art in Seattle. The artist is also curating an exhibition for the National Geographic Endurance, a polar expedition ship, which will be installed in February, 2020. Follow along with Forman’s work and travels on Instagram.

“Charcot Fjord, Greenland” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 90 x 60 inches

“Hiawatha Basin, Greenland”, soft pastel on paper

“Weddell Sea Southeast off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 60 x 90 inches

“Arctic Ocean Northwest off the coast of Ellesmere Island, Canada” (2018), 40 x 60 inches

“Supraglacial Lake (between Hiawatha and Humboldt Glaciers), Greenland, July 19 2017” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 60 x 81 7/8 inches

“Getz Ice Shelf, Antarctica” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 40 x 60 inches

“Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland, 69° 4’51.58N 49°28’24.41W, April 29th, 2017” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 108 3/8 x 68 inches

 

 



Art

Meditative Murals by Fintan Magee Depict Everyday People Lost in Imaginative Moments

September 16, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Australian artist Fintan Magee travels the world to paint large-scale murals depicting intimate, often tender, moments of focus and imagination. The artist uses his platform as a renowned muralist and studio artist to raise awareness around looming society issues like climate change and forced human migration.

Magee combines a realist style with more abstracted or fantastical elements: a child wearing swimming gear carries an iceberg in his backpack, and a grieving young man’s arms blur and pixelate into geometric patterns. The figures in each piece seem to be unaware of the viewer, gazing off into the distance or attentive to the task at hand. Though his characters are anonymous, everyday people, Magee gives a sense of specificity and personality to each subject, from nuanced facial expressions and gestures to detailed depictions of apparel.

Magee is based in Brisbane, Australia, where he grew up. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Giffith University. He most recently completed murals with Kirk Gallery’s Out in the Open event in Denmark and the Vancouver Mural Festival. See more of Magee’s latest work on Instagram and if you enjoy Magee’s socially conscious portraits, also check out Pat Perry. (via Booooooom)

 

 



Photography

Surreal Blue Spheres of Ice Juxtaposed with Everyday Life Document the Unrelenting Pace of Melting Glaciers

May 31, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

62.15 cubic meters – the average volume of ice lost on Tipra Bank glacier every half hour

Amidst everyday scenes of contemporary India, unusual blue spheres appear atop buildings, nestled next to marigold vendors, and resting on temple steps. Though the composite images, created by photographer Dillon Marsh (previously), are constructed, the chunks of lost glacier ice are a reality. Using data compiled from scientific reports, Marsh calculated and scaled the volumetric ice models for specific mountains that are losing their critically important glaciers. In a statement on the project, Counting the Costs, Marsh explained, “the aim is to draw attention to the dramatic climate changes that continue unabated while we go about our day-to-day lives.”

The South African photographer started this series in India because it is home to some of the world’s tallest mountains, and is planning to expand the series to other countries including the United States and Switzerland. Marsh, who often explores the relationship between the natural and built environment in his work, shares with Colossal that Counting the Costs draws from his previous series, For What It’s Worth. “There are a number of reason I’ve chosen to represent the volumes as spheres, but the primary reason is that it’s a recognizable shape and visually interesting, Marsh explains. “Aesthetically I want the images to be slightly surreal to counterbalance the serious themes I’m tackling.”

The photographer has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions, with his most recent solo show at Hydra + Fotografia in Mexico City. Marsh shares new projects and updates from his travels on Instagram and Behance. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

2.55 cubic meters – the average volume of ice lost on Dunagiri glacier every minute

18.64 cubic meters – the average volume of ice lost on Chhota Shigri glacier every minute

7.06 cubic meters – the average volume of ice lost on Naradu glacier every minute

176.6 cubic meters – the average volume of ice lost on Gara glacier every hour

4.78 cubic meters – the average volume of ice lost on Dokraini glacier every minute

92.58 cubic meters – the average volume of ice lost on Neh Nar glacier every hour

 

 



Art

Dramatic Decaying Flowers in Tiffanie Turner’s Solo Show “What Befell Us” Challenge Notions of Beauty and Perfection

April 23, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“Specimen B”, All photographs by Shaun Roberts, courtesy of Eleanor Harwood Gallery

In her latest solo exhibition, What Befell Us, California-based artist Tiffanie Turner explores notions of aging, imperfection, and perishability. Massive flower blossoms including dahlias, garden roses, ranunculus, and strawflowers are formed from Italian crepe paper and span more than five feet across. While in her previous work Turner strove for the ideal phenotype of each flower, in What Befell Us the artist pushes past perfection to investigate our collective relationship to flaws and damage.

The artist shares with Colossal that she felt strongly pulled to focus on climate change and environmental peril in her latest show. She expresses concern that humans’ resistance to perishability with plastic and preservatives also hastens irreparable damage to the earth. And, as a woman experiencing aging in a superficial society, Turner saw personal parallels with our global obsession with freshness and perfection. She explains:

When I started to choose my specimens for this show, instead of superimposing formal imperfections onto these pieces, I sought out flowers that are beautiful even though they are not perfect. For example, the two strawflowers in the show are two sides of the same coin. One is still bright and colorful, but its center is deformed as it starts to lose moisture. The other is older, its petals slumped back from the fading, greying center. Each are “imperfect”, but both are undeniably still beautiful. Why just keep trying to create more beauty. Why can’t we just see more things as beautiful?

What Befell Us is on view at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in San Francisco through June 15, 2019. Follow along with Turner’s latest work via Instagram. And if you’re inspired to create paper flowers of your own, the artist’s in-depth instructional book is available in The Colossal Shop.

“Specimen C”

“Specimen F”

“Specimen G”

“Specimen A”

“Specimen D”

“Specimen D” alternate view

“Specimen E”

Installation view

Installation view

 

 



Art

WATERLICHT: An Immersive Light Installation Conveys the Power and Poetry of Water

March 7, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Dutch artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde created WATERLICHT to raise awareness about rising water levels and the need to continue to innovate and adapt to our changing environment. The ethereal projection uses a combination of LED and lenses, which forms a constantly shifting layer of billowing blue light above the heads of viewers. Since its inception in 2016 as a site-specific artwork for Amsterdam’s Dutch District Water Board, the immersive installation has been shown across the world in London, Toronto, Paris, Rotterdam, Dubai, and at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

In a statement on the artist’s website, WATERLICHT is described as a “dream landscape about the power and poetry of water… WATERLICHT creates a collective experience to share the importance of water innovation.” Roosegaarde seeks to encourage positive thinking towards adaptations like building floating cities and generating power from water, while also offering a visceral reminder of the power of water and how it can reclaim land.

Roosegaarde’s body of work focuses on the complex relationship between people and our natural surroundings, including smog, space waste, and rainbows. He was recently named a visiting professor at Monterrey University in Monterrey, Mexico for 2019. You can discover more of Roosegaarde’s projects on his website, and watch an interview with the artist at the site of WATERLICHT’s Toronto installation in the video below. (thnx Marlies!)

 

 



Art Science

Searing Bands of White Light Mark the Ocean’s Rising Tides in a Coastal Community

March 5, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Documentation of Installation by Pekka Niittyvirta & Timo Aho

A chilling new installation in the Outer Hebrides shows the impact of climate change and rising tides on the low-lying islands off the west coast of Scotland. Lines (57° 59 ́N, 7° 16 ́W)  was created by Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho for Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre in Lochmaddy on the island of North Uist. The site-specific installation uses sensors and LED lights to show where the water will flow during storm surges if the Earth’s temperature continues to rise. Searing white lines mark this rising water level on the sides of buildings, hover over bridges, and extend across other susceptible areas across the museum campus and surrounding community.

The installation’s delineations starkly demonstrate the ticking clock that makes the museum’s current location unsustainable unless drastic measures are taken to stop climate change. The video below shows the artists’ installation process. You can see more from Niittyvirta and Aho on their websites. (via designboom)