climate crisis

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Documentary History

A Heartening Documentary Follows the Community Harvesting Ice in Minnesota's North Woods

September 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

Each winter in Ely, Minnesota, a crew treks out onto a frozen lake to cut hefty blocks of ice from its surface. They haul the thick chunks to storage, where they’re stacked, covered in sawdust, and preserved for use the rest of the year, a once-necessary method of refrigeration rarely applied today. Consisting of dozens of people, some who have been dedicated to the cause for decades and others who joined in the last year or two, the team engages in the age-old practice of harvesting the frozen blocks at the property of legendary explorer and preservationist Will Steger.

Produced by Gravity Films and directed by Nathaniel Schmidt, “Ice Ball” follows the crew throughout two seasons as they endure below freezing temperatures, a typical condition for Minnesota winters that made filming extra challenging, at the explorer’s sustainable enclave in the North Woods. The short documentary spotlights the community that’s gathered around Steger since his Arctic expeditions and chronicles their devotion to more sustainable ways of living.

As the disastrous effects of the climate crisis accelerate, historic methods like the ice harvest reduce the reliance on carbon-based energy sources and offer an urgent alternative. “All of the ice shelves that I’ve traveled on in the polar regions, north and south, they’re not there anymore. We’re at this crisis now, the human race and the planet. We’re going to have to innovate out of it, and this is what it’s about,” Steger says.

According to Short of the Week, Schmidt is currently working on a feature-length documentary about the life of a Wiradjuri woman. It’s slated for release next August, and in the meantime, you can find more of his work on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Art

A Public Art Project Linking Environmental Concerns and Social Justice Brings Eight Murals to Essex

September 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

Aches. All images by Doug Gillen and courtesy of Re:FRAMED, shared with permission

A spate of public art is flooding the streets of Basildon in Essex, England as part of a new initiative that falls at the intersection of social and environmental justice. Throughout the summer, curators Doug Gillen and Charlotte Pyatt, who are operating together as Re:FRAMED, tasked eight artists with creating large-scale murals and smaller painted works as part of Our Towns: Climate. The resulting pieces reconsider some of today’s most pressing issues through the lens of local art and include a glitched technicolor horse by Aches, INSA’s floral windows, and Michele Curtis’s bright message of support.

Established by the government to house relocated Londoners following World War II, Basildon is marked by its Brutalist architecture and a lengthy history of braving devastation. “This sentiment forms the heart of the Our Towns programme, engaging culture to consider new solutions to old problems in addressing our relationship with public space and each other,” a statement says.

Our Towns will kick off in-person programming on September 11 with workshops, tours, and live artmaking, and you can follow its progress on Re:FRAMED’s Instagram.

 

Insa

Gabriel Pitcher

Franco Fasoli

Erin Holly

Marina Capdevila

Michele Curtis

Erin Holly

 

 



Art

Colorful Crayon Animals by Herb Williams Illustrate Impacts of the Climate Crisis

August 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Phantom Limb(s).” All images by John Brown, © Herb Williams, shared with permission

Bolstering his ongoing body of work confronting the climate crisis, two new sculptures by Nashville-based artist Herb Williams (previously) address the interconnected impacts of environmental catastrophe and disastrous human consumption from the perspective of animals. A fawn, a pair of narwhals, and a small arctic fox compose the colorful menagerie, with a melting chunk of a glacier, cut branches, and sliced tree trunk completing the crayon-based ecosystems. The artist’s works are particularly timely following the IPCC’s bleak report earlier this month and recent climate-related tragedies, like fires ripping across California and Utah, Greece, and Siberia and a tropical storm that hit Haiti just days after the country was devasted by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

Both of Williams’ pieces rely equally on subject matter and medium to convey the urgency of the issues, as with the bands of color embedded within the fawn’s legs and hunks of wood in “Phantom Limb(s).” Bold, vibrant stripes illustrate the animals’ interpretations of deforestation and the potential for synesthesia, a condition allowing sounds to manifest visually. “The growth rings travel on as a sort of sonar after the tree is cut, and the animals see and hear the ripple effect as the loss is felt throughout the forest,” Williams says.

Similarly in the tusk-framed piece titled “Adrift,” distinct blocks of color encircle the drifting mass and bottom half of the narwhals’ bodies, showing the enduring effects of environmental disasters “similar to how the bands of sediment are left in homes after floodwaters recede,” he writes. “The bands are in the colors of black (oil spills), red (wildfires), green (irradiated waters from reactor spills), and even gold from luxury billionaire yachts running aground.”

Williams is currently working on six large-scale sculptures for the Atlanta International Airport, and you can follow his progress on Instagram.

 

Detail of “Adrift”

Detail of “Phantom Limb(s)”

Detail of “Phantom Limb(s)”

“Adrift”

Detail of “Adrift”

Detail of “Adrift”

“Phantom Limb(s)”

 

 



Photography

Sunlight Filters through Misty Spruce Forests in Enchanting Photos by Kilian Schönberger

July 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Kilian Schönberger, shared with permission

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.

 

 

 



Design

Earthrise: A Striking New Collection by Iris Van Herpen Recycles Plastic Waste into Sculptural Garments

July 6, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Iris Van Herpen, shared with permission

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.

Van Herpen shares more of the meteorological and biology-based designs on her Instagram, and you also might enjoy Phillip Lim and Charlotte McCurdy’s algae sequins.

 

 

 



Photography Science

A New Timelapse Tool Reveals How Much Humans Have Altered Earth's Landscape Since 1984

April 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

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)