Libby Heaney

February 2016:  Why, despite overwhelming scientific evidence, do the current narratives around climate change fail to influence our collective behaviour to a substantial degree?  Why do we ignore or in some cases actively refute the evidence even though the long term consequences will likely be severe?

Following a lecture and discussion with Dr. Dan Lockton about designing for behaviour change, the students were asked to make a piece of work in any medium that communicates climate change differently.  To do this, the students were asked to draw on the text “Don’t Even Think About It” by George Marshall, which argues “that our values, assumptions, and prejudices can take on lives of their own, gaining authority as they are shared, dividing people in their wake”.  Hence Marshall explores how to rethink and reimagine climate change in relation to what truly excites, threatens and motivates different audiences.

Climate change is, of course, complex and encompasses the entanglements between both human and non-human actors, such that any action to combat it (or to refute it, for that matter) must result from collective behaviour due to an emerging consensus.  The students were therefore asked to draw on their research and experience of working with systems, science and emergent phenomena from the previous term when undertaking this challenging project.

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Taking a speculative design approach, Franziska Hatton’s writes about her installation “Discovering Climate Change & Genetic Modification”

A performative moving image installation alluding to the difficulties in communicating the effects of climate change.  The moving image was inspired by the style of old educational documentaries, and appropriated the rhythm and aged aesthetics of these films. The content of the moving image was comical and light hearted, influenced by the program Look Around You shown on BBC in the early 00’s.  I also took comical inspiration and the aspect of engulfing a viewer into a narrative of an alternative reality, by being meticulous with detail and letting lose my imagination from the dark humored book Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Little.  The comical direction of this piece emerged from the research, discovering that genetic modification trials have started in livestock, allowing for animals to become resistant to heat, thus remaining comfortable in the unfolding events of climate change.

It has also been seriously suggested that genetically modifying humans could help reduce climate change with the paper: Human Engineering and Climate Change Forthcoming as a Target Article in Ethics, Policy and the Environment written by S. Matthew Liao (New York University), Anders Sandberg (Oxford), and Rebecca Roache (Oxford).  One example in the paper is making humans allergic to meat, or simply becoming vegetarian.  Set within an alternative dystopian and speculative reality the plot of the documentary explained the process of using genetic modification to reduce climate change, using the latest breakthrough in genetic modification: Crispr Cas9 technologies.

Georgia Ward Dyer

Georgia Ward Dyer’s piece, Canary in the Mine, is a light and sound piece, comprised of an old brass miner’s lamp that slowly lights up extremely bright then falls back to black. The light is very cold and not warm or appealing.  In pitch black, the birdsongs of the UK’s extinct species are heard, then as the light gets progressively brighter, each bird drops out (in chronological order of their extinction), such that at full brightness it is completely silent. The recordings of extinct British bird species are taken from the British Library’s Sound Archive, and from the collaborative project (an online collection of birdsong recordings).  The work is set up on a loop so the cycle repeats indefinitely, one loop lasting approximately 1 minute.

Georgia reflects

An important objective [of the brief] was to ‘reference ideas around complexity, systems and networks’.
Canary in the Mine has many layers of meaning.  The title of course references sentinel species, specifically the notion of birds dying as early warning signals for environmental hazards. The brass miners lamp in question is an antique from Welsh coal-mining country.  The connection to complex systems is made; briefly, that coal was formed from ancient forests and plants, that the destruction of present- day forests and natural landscape for human development including for the mining of fuels is a major contributing factor to the extinction of bird species, that those fuels are used to provide electric power to us for lighting our homes, etc.  Some of the critical feedback included the observation that generally ‘light’ is associated with ‘good’ but that this piece critiqued this by revealing the hidden complexities at work, and provoking discussion on what we value.

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Inspired by the lack of engagement with one of the big topics of modern times, Jordan Gamble’s book, Karbonsutra, aims to help tackle Global Warming by merging it with something most of us want to actively participate in, sex. The book invites people to learn about sexual positions based on the original Karmasutra while learning about native trees that can help combat global warming.  Jordan suggested his book could be a Christmas gift, for individuals between the ages of 16 and late 30’s early 40’s.

img_0022 img_0023 Temperature Clocks

Other work included Temperature Clock by Wei Lun Chang, who writes

The surface of the clock is divided into three different colours.  The main circle represents the temperature of the city right now; the little circle in the middle represents the maximum and minimum temperature of the day 10 years ago, 2006. The datum of color is set at 15°C, white, a comfortable temperature for human body in Winter.  Temperatures around 16~45°C would be shown in red and 14~ -15°C would be shown in blue.

According to the book from George Marshall, Don’t Even Think About It, to make people more active on the issue of climate change, we should emphasize that it is something happening right now, instead of something to affect us in the future.  In response to the idea, I chose to display a wall of clocks with the time in different cities around the world, just like in hotel lobbies, to encourage people to reflect on climate change as happening around the world in the same moment.

By placing the clocks in a location that people would walk by every day, one can observe how the colors are changing on a daily basis.

And NOW by Yinan Song exploring the impacts around climate change by using melting ice sculptures as disruptive inconveniences.

Yinan Song NOW