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WIREs Clim Change
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Artful climate change communication: overcoming abstractions, insensibilities, and distances

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This article considers how visual and sonic art creates encounters through which audiences can experience climate change. Building on reviews published in WIREs Climate Change on images, films, drama, climate science fiction, and other literary forms, we examine how audio and visual art addresses the enduring problems of climate change communication. We begin with three of these problems: climate change's often abstract nature, the distances in time and space between those who cause climate change and the places its effects are felt, and forms of human–environmental relations that shape how climate is understood. We reflect on how, through a combination of vision and sound, art creates sensory experiences that tackle these challenges. In querying how our artistic examples bring about environmental engagements, we combine an analysis of the representations and narratives of these works with an appreciation of their aesthetic form—in short, how these art pieces activate emotional and experiential responses. While we recognize the limits of what art can do, especially the gallery‐based forms of work we study here, we argue that spending time exploring the encounters that art creates helps us to understand what it brings to the communication of climate change. It also demonstrates how lessons learnt about sensory experience, affect, and emotions might be more widely applied to the analysis of cultural forms—from literature to films—and their role in climate change communication. WIREs Clim Change 2017, 8:e472. doi: 10.1002/wcc.472 This article is categorized under: Trans‐Disciplinary Perspectives > Humanities and the Creative Arts
Heat and Heartbeat of the City (2004) Andrea Polli, ‘A kind of narrative, emphasizing a climate phenomenon that affects human life negatively and compressing a 90‐year time scale involving millions of people into an individual experience of minutes’ (Ref , p. 45). Source: http://www.andreapolli.com/centralpark/main.html.
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You are variations (detail from artists’ books), 2011–ongoing, Christina della Giustina.
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Archive of Vatnajökull (the sound of), 2007–8, Katie Paterson. Installation view Ingleby, Edinburgh, 2014. Photograph: John McKenzie. The three images that accompany the installation and that also surround the sound files online offer a very particular visual framing of the recordings. The pops, creaks, and muted ice slides become set against the visualization of a white icy environment.
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Archive of Vatnajökull (the sound of), 2007–8, Katie Paterson. Installation view PKM Gallery, Seoul, 2011. Photograph: Hong Cheolki. Call this number between June 6th and 13th, 2007 and you would have heard an abstract series of cracks, pops, and creaks. The book, mounted in a case on the plinth, contains the numbers of the 10,000 callers who did ring in and were connected to one of Europe's largest ice extents and one of the key sites in the monitoring of global warming and its effects.
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