Media Research Group University of Brighton

Here Today – Moving Images of Climate Change

Julie Doyle University of Brighton Faculty of ArtsStill taken from the film 'It's the Skin You're Living In' by Fevered Sleep.  © Fevered Sleep 2012

 

Here Today – Moving Images of Climate Change is a Leverhulme Trust funded artist in residence project (2009-2011) through which Media Studies scholar Julie Doyle and artist David Harradine explored how a creative dialogue between art and media studies could lead to new visualisations of climate change.

Most existing media images of climate change deal with and document its visible impacts to landscapes in ways that can lead people to feel disempowered and disengaged. In this context, this project aimed to find new images for communicating climate change; images which seek to provoke different kinds of engagements and action than those generated by current media imagery.

A cross-disciplinary project, the residency thus explored some of the different ways of seeing and ways of making meaning that occur in media and the arts, and examined how art and media representations differently deal with levels of abstraction, how they are affected by context, and how they address the relationships between the visual, the poetic and the political.

Looking specifically at current visualisations of climate change, the project was built around three key themes: 

  • Embodiment
  • Time
  • Place, space, and landscape

Through these themes, the residency developed a conceptual and creative framework within which a number of new image-based artworks have been created.

Project outputs

1. Conceptual and creative framework for artwork on climate change

Embodiment/human - Climate change can often feel distant and disconnected, particularly to western people. The project was concerned with making the human a central part of climate change, and of unsettling the distinctions between nature and culture. How climate change can be made to feel embodied and a part of the routines and practices of everyday life was a key aspect of the framework.

Time - Climate change develops incrementally over time and it is not always visible. The effects of greenhouse gases emitted in the past have a visible impact in the present/future, whilst greenhouse gases emitted in the present will not have a visible impact until the future. Climate change is thus a temporally complex issue to understand and communicate. The framework asks us to complicate fixed notions of time in order to help make the temporal connections between climate change and the routines and timelines of daily life.

Place/space – Climate change can often feel distant and remote from everyday life. The framework places emphasis upon linking the causes and effects of climate change to the daily spaces and places of people’s lives, and explores how these connect to the more distant locales affected by climate change.

The framework was produced through a series of private conversations and public dialogues (see blog and research seminars). A manifesto also illustrates the conceptual and creative framework produced through these conversations as part of the collaboration.

2. Multi-format film- It’s the Skin You’re Living In

It’s the Skin You’re Living In is a multi-format film project that explores and challenges images of climate change through an exploration of what it is to be human and animal in a changing climate. In both a playful and serious way, it asks us to reconsider the boundaries between human and animal, between nature and culture, in order to explore the dynamics between climate, connectedness and home. A miniature multi-screen installation version of the film is travelling the UK and is available to view at http://feveredsleep.co.uk/films

3. Printed visual essay by Julie Doyle

A printed visual essay, ‘Here Today: Thoughts on Communicating Climate Change’, by Julie Doyle accompanies the film, It’s the Skin You’re Living In. As a way of contextualizing the residency and its outputs, Julie Doyle explains the difficulties that climate change poses for effective communication and understanding. Focusing upon the concepts of nature, vision and time, Doyle explores the challenges and possibilities for more engaging and effective climate change communication and action. A pdf of the essay is available to view Download 'Here Today: Thoughts on Communicating Climate Change'.

Please contact Julie Doyle or David Harradine if you would like to discuss any aspects of the residency with us.