The world of art may one way to help people understand issues around the climate crisis. The impacts of climate change are diverse and interconnected, which makes it difficult to conceptualize. Single use plastic use is connected to the tar sands, inequality is connected to palm oil production. It’s all so overwhelming.
Artists can help us get an understanding on what the climate crisis is to humans in practice through their works. Some artists try to capture the anthropecene while others make art to rile up politicians to act. Art and artists provide another way to understand the changing world around us.
While it’s hard to know what effect any one work has on the audience, creators — from authors to filmmakers to visual artists — are making a case for their role in tackling climate change: to engage people’s emotions and imagination in ways that straight data just won’t.
“Film … has the capacity to move people in a number of ways simultaneously … intellectually, emotionally, viscerally, all at the same time,” said filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal in an interview with Lynch.
“Using that medium to open up that consciousness, to move people in that way is our goal. Whether it works or not is another matter.”
Earlier this month Run the Jewels released their most recent album and it’s the music we need for these crazy times. The band effectively captures the tensions felt by people on the ground experience racism, classism, and oppression from the police (and the state at large). Their anger isn’t the aggression of punk, which didn’t change much, it’s about realign the wrongs in society and doing something about it. One of the members of RTJ, Killer Mike, has been calling for radical change in the USA and people are starting to hear his message.
Here in June 2020, amid global protests triggered by the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, few artists in any genre have the necessary audacity, and authority, to run toward this chaos of dismay and rage and defiance, not away from it. This is the rap album this moment demands, in that at least for now, it barely registers as a plain old rap album at all.
Killer Mike—a thoughtful and forceful historian, an ardent Bernie Sanders supporter, the host of an adventurous Netflix talk show, and if we’re lucky a future firebrand politician—had in fact already risen to this occasion. On Saturday, after protests and riots swept across his hometown as they did virtually every major city nationwide, he gave a teary, devastating speech alongside T.I. and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. He expressed solidarity with the cops (“I’m the son of an Atlanta city police officer”) and the protestors both. (“I’m mad. As. Hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn down yesterday, because I’m tired of seeing black men die.”) His voice wobbled, from the start, as he drummed on the podium, but his message was firm, a plea with the force of a divine command: “It is your duty to not burn your own house down for anger with an enemy.” Please watch this.
Marconi Union – Weightless (Official Video) from Optical Vitamins on Vimeo.
The song Weightless by the Marconi Union has been proven by neuroscientists to reduce people’s anxiety, and in times like a pandemic we can all get too stressed out. Following in the tradition of ambient music artist the group set out to create an aural atmosphere that welcomed and comforted people. Don’t take my word for it, click play on the video above and relax.
According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, which conducted the research, the top song produced a greater state of relaxation than any other music tested to date.
Equally remarkable is the fact the song was actually constructed to do so. The group that created “Weightless”, Marconi Union, did so in collaboration with sound therapists. Its carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines help slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
If you are a creative individual or work at a company that produces creative content then the United Nations wants your help. The UN has put out a call for creatives to produce engaging content to educate people about how to be safe during this pandemic. They are looking for anything from posters, marketing campaigns, songs, films, anything! This might be your opportunity to pick up painting again or whatever artistic hobby you’ve been neglecting. Submissions are open now and now’s your chance to help the UN help all of us.
Check out my Twitter bot Jam This Game if you’re in need of some creative inspiration.
The United Nations (UN) needs your help in translating critical public health messages, into work that will engage and inform people across different cultures, languages, communities and platforms. The shortlisted work will reach everyone, everywhere.
We need your submissions from day 1. The UN will continually review the submissions, and shortlist the most suitable work to become visible on a microsite, and accessible to everyone – supporting media, brands, influencers etc – around the world, who can download and use the work across their platforms in support of this cause.
It is not too late. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Together, we can save lives, protect resources and care for each other.
Fiction is an effective tool to picture how others live and what other possibilities exist for humanity. Stories like Star Trek inspire people to strive to make the imaginary real through existing science and technology, so why not do that for the transition to a fossil fuel free economy? That’s exactly what Climaginaries is trying to do. The program searches for the best works of fiction that can help people foresee the benefits of a fossil free future.
Lastly, the project aims at enabling new ways of envisioning transitions to a post-fossil world. In this component we turn to the cultural realm to explore creative ways of producing imaginaries that go beyond conventional climate efforts. Through a series of activities, scholars and artists will be brought together to enable the development of new climate imaginaries. Activities could include, but are not limited to, writing climate fiction based on modelling, and modelling climate fiction based on imaginaries in literature, art, TV-series and cinema. Additionally, we will collaborate with local artist-in-residence to produce innovative forms of new imaginaries. The exact form for this is yet to be decided on, but could include an exhibition, an installation or a theatre performance. The creative characteristic of this component also allows us to study imaginaries outside the common framework such as radical and unsustaianble imaginaries.
Check it out.