Digital photographs, 2018
Digital PDF toolkit, 2019
Exhibited at the World Bank Climate Investment Fund's "Power of 10: Shaping the Future of Climate Action" summit, Ouarzazate, Morocco, 2019
Funded by the Institute for the Future's Climate Action 2030 Grant, with support from the World Bank Climate Investment Fund
These images and embodiments (Climate "LARPing") present a ficto-critical ecological narrative. Archetypes of both urgency and ambivalence are part of our future interaction with action on climate change. These are a staged rehearsal for encountering changed landscapes; an attempt to increase our proximity to climate change.
The process of rehearsal is not just a way to explore a new and improved relationship with the planet, it is also a way to prepare. These images capture ghosts of the future.
I laminate existing areas of flooding from recent natural disasters overtop future sea level rise predictions, cosplaying in those areas as if there were under water. To determine the sites of "new shorelines," where we might sunbathe or enjoy the water's edge, I used the metric of 1-2 meters of sea level rise. This is the metric predicted by 2100 in a recent study in the journal Nature.
As the United States’ “plant hardiness zones” shift northward, we may be able to grow new types of foods further north than previously. What would it look like if we could grow tropical fruit in New York City? Other foods punctuate the images as well—seaweed can help mitigate the effects of climate change through the absorption of CO2 and the sequestration of nitrogen. They can even aid in the reduction of pollution and nutrients dumped into waterways due to agricultural runoff or human waste.
In an attempt to embed new values into physical objects, other photographs depict a series of “altars” suggestive of rituals. These speak to values of an intertwined Anthropogenic existence—part of climate action going forward will be to embed new values of eco-awareness into our daily rituals. Necessary tools to living in an altered climate may take own cultural significance and elicit the creation of heirlooms and ceremonial objects in relation to their heightened importance.
As we unintentionally act out habits in our daily lives, some with dire consequences, I ask how we might occupy near-future habits. By imagining new habits, we can also reimagine the trajectory of our footprint on our landscapes, our food system, and our shorelines.
Our senses fall short of helping us to conceptualize the true scale of the catastrophe of climate change. Each of our actions, nonetheless, contributes to the catastrophe. As Alvin Toffler articulated in his novel Future Shock in 1970, “Again and again the human brain has blinded itself to the novel possibilities of the future.” What novel possibilities of our future—what radical and outlandish visions of a changing world—can we bring into our daily experience now, in order to pay homage to our own limited foresight? The future of climate action will inevitably require a reconciliation with hard-to-imagine futures.