James Hansen

Open Call for Climate Change Art

“Calling artists to sketch a climate change design that will be created

using thousands of people in an iconic place threatened by climate change.”

***Deadline: September 6 2010 (midnight PST)***

Introduction

In November 2010, 350.org will organize 20 simultaneous public art pieces that are massive enough to be seen from space and located on the front-lines of the climate crisis – our sinking coastlines, endangered forests, melting glaciers, and polluted cities. We’re looking to recruit top and up-and-coming artists to design these images.  Each public art piece will be photographed by satellite and on site. The images will be widely distributed to mainstream media outlets around the world. 350.org is one of the few organizations in the world with the grassroots network to pull off such an ambitious project. In 2009, we organized over 5,200 events in more than 180 countries, what CNN dubbed “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.”

The Goal

To pierce the consciousness of the world on the eve of the next round of the United Nation Climate Talks, that we need action from our world’s leaders to get us to 350.

What the *%#? is 350?

350 is the parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere that we need to ensure that life as we currently know it continues. Some say it’s the most important number in the world.  In 2008 NASA’s James Hansen reported that we need to keep the CO2 level in the atmosphere below 350 parts per million if we want a planet “similar to the one on which civilization developed, and to which life is adapted.”  We’re at 390 now. Yikes.

To learn more about 350 please see below or visit: www.350.org

Your Role

We invite you to sketch a climate change inspired design that we will create using thousands of people in an iconic place threatened by climate change.  Your design will be captured via satellite and shared with the world.

GUIDELINES

Below are some basic parameters to consider for creating the design.

MATERIALS – We respect that each artist works within their own medium, but for this particular project, we would like to incorporate the people in 350’s amazing international grassroots network to realize your design, in essence have people physically make up some or all of your design with their bodies. 350.org can organize several thousand people to participate.  Because the designs will be captured from the sky, designs that have sharp contrast and bright colors are more likely to pop and be picked up by satellite.  Designs can also be a combination of humans + materials.

SIZE – The ideal minimum size for capturing the art via satellite is roughly equivalent to a soccer field,

e.g. 110 meters x 70 meters (120 yards x 75 yards).

The Nitty Gritty of “Sculpting with People”:  Each pixel in the satellite photo is 60cm x 60cm which translates into all “lines” for forming the designs ideally being at least 2 meters x 2 meters. If you are using humans, this means each “line” should be at least 5-10 people wide, (note this assumes the people are standing).  If your design involves people lying down or incorporating materials into the design, these numbers might shift.

TIME OF DAY – The satellite images can be taken during the day or at night. (If you’re considering a nighttime installation involving illumination, we encourage artists to consider light sources that are not energy intensive.)

“350” We encourage (but do not require), artists to find a way to incorporate this critical number into their piece. If artists opt not to incorporate 350 into the design, we ask that the number be placed on the side as a signature.  Artists can also engage traditional number systems to display the image, or investigate the concept of ¨parts per million¨.

Note: In order for 350 to be captured by satellite, the number needs to be at least 50ft x 30ft or 15m x 40m

LOCATIONS

Below is a list of the current locations where we will be creating the designs as well as climate change issues important to these regions:

United States

Los Angeles, California

Desert, New Mexico

Gulf of Mexico (most likely on the water collaborating with fisherman and fishing boats)

Midwest – location tbd

Mexico

Mexico City

Cancun (issue – sea level rise)

Dominican Republic

Bolivia

Altiplano near La Paz

Brazil

Clearcut in Jungle (issue – deforestation) or City – Sao Paulo

Iceland

Note because of limited daylight in November this will most likely be a light installation

Spain

Barcelona

Egypt

Desert outside of Cairo

South Africa

TBD

India

Mumbai (issue water and sea level rise)

Maldives (issue sea level rise)

Philippines

China

Shanghai or Beijing

Australia

Antarctica (issue massive ice melt)

350.ORG SUPPORT

Although 350.org cannot monetarily compensate artists, we will give artists full recognition for their designs as well as support and augment artists’ work in a multitude of ways:

  • REALIZE YOUR CONCEPT

350.org has an international grassroots network of people who can realize your concept.

  • MEDIA EXPOSURE

350.org has a stellar communications team with a successful track record of garnering press for their international actions.  For example, last October, 350.org coordinated 5200 simultaneous demonstrations around the world, what CNN called ‘the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history’ on any issue.  Due to 350.org communications team, these actions were also widely covered by a wealth of media outlets from local to global media giants like CNN.

350.ORG

350.org is an international campaign that’s building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that science and justice demand.

Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

Our focus is on the number 350–as in parts per million CO2. If we can’t get below that, scientists say, the damage we’re already seeing from global warming will continue and accelerate.  But 350 is more than a number–it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.

CRITERIA

Entries will be judged using the following criteria:

  • a. Effectiveness in communicating a climate change message with a creative image.
  • b. Likelihood the design can be created in the specific sites 350.org has identified.
  • c. Likelihood the image will easily be captured by satellite according to the aforementioned guidelines.

ARTWORK

Designs must be original work created by the artists.  By submitting a design to 350.org’s EARTH, artists are granting 350.org permission to use this design for the 350.org EARTH project.  350.org will give full credit to the artists whose designs we use.

METHOD for SUBMITTING ART

Please note that we will only be able to accept online submissions: www.350.org/earth

FINAL DESIGNS

We will be contacting artists whose designs we will be creating, Monday, September 13, 2010.  Please note that due to our limited capacity, we will be unable to respond to non-finalists.

QUESTIONS

For questions please e-mail EARTH@350.org.  Please note it may take us several days to respond to your questions.

THANK YOU

350.org would like to thank the Artist Philip Krohn who conceptualized the EARTH logo, for granting 350.org permission to use this image for 350.org’s EARTH.

Creativity, Action and Rhetoric.

Any fellowship program that respects artists will not set out like missionaries to train them to be good citizens, which will do as much to reinforce the popular assumption that artists are irresponsible children as supporting facile aesthetic tantrums . . . The visual arts field should be seen as en ecosystem in which many different kinds of art must be able to flourish.

– Michael Brenson, “Visionaries and Outcasts”

Last year at the UN talks in Copenhagen there was an awful lot of art. I mean a big glorious bucketful. I mean exhibitions and performances and people-hosting-people-as-art, and there was a great amount of debate as to how that was going to affect policy. If at all. In an interview with me for Inhabitat.com, Ian Garrett of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts reported that in Copenhagen, “These creative ventures, in talking about climate change, are reinforcing what people are feeling around town here and they have an increasing voice with the policy makers of the world,” while admitting that the influence art had on policy was indirect at best.

So now what? Tonight, in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there was a gathering of minds looking to answer exactly that question. Part of the PEN World Voices of International Literature, the even was called Weather Report: What Can We Do? and featured, among others, Bill McKibben, author of the 350.org campaign, Skeptical Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg, Climatologist James Hansen and Dot Earthist Andrew Revkin.

Would love to read somebody’s lecture notes. In the meantime, I’ll be “doing” some blogging and art-ing.

Go to the Green Museum

PEN American Center – Weather Report: What Can We Do?

When: Thursday, April 29

Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, 83rd Street and Fifth Avenue, New York City

What time: 8–9:30 p.m.

With Jostein GaarderJames HansenFrederic HaugeBjørn LomborgBill McKibbenAndrew Revkin, and Cynthia Rosenzweig; moderated by Robert Silvers

Tickets: $25/$20 PEN Members/The Metropolitan Museum of Art Members and New York Review of Books subscribers; www.smarttix.com or (212) 868-4444. For Member discount code, please contact Lara Tobin at lara@pen.org or (212) 334-1660 ext. 126.

“What Can We Do?” brings together on one panel some of the premier scientists and writers from the U.S. and Scandinavia: Frederic Hauge, founder and director of the international environmental organization the Bellona Foundation; Bjørn Lomborg, an Adjunct Professor at Copenhagen Business School and author of the controversial The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World and Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming; Jostein Gaarder, author of the internationally-acclaimed novel Sophie’s World and creator of the Sophie Prize; Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, and numerous other books; James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climatologists and author of Storms of My Grandchildren; and author and environment journalist Andrew Revkin, whose biography of Chico Mendes, formed the basis of the feature film The Burning Season. Cynthia Rosenzweig is co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the mayor advising the city on adaptation for its critical infrastructure. The New York Review of Books editor, Robert Silvers will guide the discussion about how we can turn back the tides of global warming.

For more information: PEN American Center – Weather Report: What Can We Do?.

“Civil resistance”, science and ethics

We are in for a season of civil disobedience. The Save Vestas campaign has gone national.Kingsnorth rumbles on, as does the Heathrow protest – which is likely to be the focus of the next Climate Camp at the end of August. Next month also sees Wales‘  and Scotland’s first Climate Camps. As COP15 focusses minds, there are even plans to disrupt the Copenhagen meeting.

A generation of jobless students will now swell numbers. But should those less used to participating in civil action also be getting stuck in?

In a recent newsletter [PDF 147KB], climate scientist/activist James Hansen concludes with a short section titled “Civil Resistance: Is the Sundance Kid a Criminal?”, suggesting the urgent need for what Gandhi called “civil resistance” rather than “civil disobedience”, especially directed towards companies who are guilty of passing the bill for carbon clean up to future generations. Even though his choice of gun-slinging Western hero rather shows which era he’s coming from, I guess he’s qualified to talk, because James Hansen himself was arrested alongside Daryl Hannah last month for his part in the West Virginia coal mining protests.

The excellent climate science blogger Jo Abbess has just raised his arrest in a post which argues that such action by scientists is vital because, as George Marshall of the New Scientisthas been saying, the public as a whole are not changing their behaviour in the way that those scientists know they should be .

This argument implies that scientists, as the people who really understand the bottom line, are now ethically bound to start to do more than produce data. They must join with scientists like Hansen. But if scientists remain hesitant to get start linking arms and chaining themselves to fences, Hansen’s own reputation as a leading climate scientist is an example of why. The man warned Congress back in 1988 about the perils of global warming has been under assault ever since he turned activist. Despite his role as a leading scientist and head of the NASA Gordon Institute for Space Studies, his name has been dragged through the mud by global warming sceptics. His arrest last month prompted the New York Times headline “Does NASA’s James Hansen Still Matter?”

What are the responsibilities of those who know to act? And what are the consequences if they do?

“Well done ThWART” photo by darrangange

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

More on Robin McKie’s article from The Observer

Well we have to be doing something right, because McKie’s article got this response from factually wayward Daily Telegraph young fogey James Delingpole, lambasting “eco-luvvies”. It’s a conspiracy! froths Delingpole:

What Cape Farewell does brilliantly, Delingpole fulminates, is breed wave after wave of high profile propagandists for the authorised Al Gore/James Hansen version of man made climate doom.

Um… yes. And? Delingpole (Ed. public school & Oxon), however, clearly thinks using culture to demonstrate things he doesn’t believe in is wrong.

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O Brother: The Coen Brothers target the coal industry

In the month that James Hansen asked for a total moratorium on coal-burning, the Coen Brothers have completed their first advert for The Reality Coalition , a campaign targeting the US coal industry. The coal-based energy industry is one of world’s most significant producers of greenhouse gasses. The Coen’s mock the coal industry’s as yet unproven claims that it can produce “clean coal” power through carbon capture – the untried technology to be used at the new Kingsnorth power station planned by EON. “Clean coal,” goes the ad’s slogan cynically, “harnesses the awesome power of the word ‘clean‘.”

 

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

Bill McKibben on 350.org

I’ve just put up the Bill McKibben interview. He’s asking artists to become involved working somehow with the figure 350. (That’s the number of parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere which NASA scientist James Hansen thinks will allow a sustainable civilisation).

 There are moments when you get excited about meeting great people who are doing great work. There are moments you remember when you wake up in the night sweating. This is either one, or the other. Or both: “When his team put it out that’s what they found, yes it is shocking.
I’m no Pollyanna on this, you know. I wrote a book about it 20 years
ago called The End of Nature so I’m not chipper about the whole
thing.  But, I think like everybody else, I’d assumed that we had a
little more room than we do. I mean, the Arctic melted 50 years ahead of schedule. That was the real daunting wake up call.”

Read the whole thing here.

 

Illustration: Heather and Ivan Morison Dark Star, 2007. Film still. Image courtesy of the artists.

 

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Dear Barack and Michelle

From the recent open letter from NASA climate scientist James Hansen to Michelle and Barack Obama, urging radical action when he takes office:

There is a profound disconnect between actions that policy circles are considering and what
the science demands for preservation of the planet. A stark scientific conclusion, that we
must reduce greenhouse gases below present amounts to preserve nature and humanity, has
become clear to the relevant experts. The validity of this statement could be verified by the
National Academy of Sciences, which can deliver prompt authoritative reports in response to
a Presidential request. NAS was set up by President Lincoln for just such advisory purposes.

Tomorrow at the RSA Arts & Ecology site, I’ll be publishing an interview with US environmentalist Bill McKibben in which he argues for a worldwide campaign in support of action to reduce carbon emissions to 350ppm, in line with James Hansen’s recent paper that suggests that our emissions are already too high for sustainable modern life. McKibben is taking the reins on this one with 350, which lets Jarvis Cocker off Ed Milliband’s hook.

Photo: RIBA President Sunand Prasad’s The Volume of One Tonne of CO2. As featured in Best of 2008. Photo by Nathan Gallagher

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog