Posts tagged ‘activism’
We’ve all seen dumpsters overflowing with cardboard, trashbags, plastics, and all different kinds of trash. We have also seen all of these things littered in the streets, possibly staining our beautiful city. Because of this, many people have the connotation that trash is something that we should hate and something that we should think is ugly. However, many artists have taken trash on as their materials to create masterpieces that not only look magnificent, but help raise awareness to environmental issues.
For example, the “Waving Wall” is a street art piece that uses 1200 19-liter water bottles to create this “waving wall” and to highlight how the issues of how there are hidden quantities of water used to produce the products we buy. For example, 1200 19-liter water bottles can be used to produce only two pairs of jeans. In my opinion, I prefer seeing the “Waving Wall” over wasting that much water on only two pairs of jeans.
This sense of using street art made out of garbage helps shape the public’s opinion. It not only shows them something cool and unique by using garbage to create art, but it raises awareness and gets them thinking about their consumption choices and how they get rid of/use their own garbage and trash. As you can watch in the video below, turning trash into art is something that many people find interesting and cool and it shows how there are better, more interesting ways to use trash than to just throw them in the nearest alleyway.
In my opinion, while it is clearly unrealistic for every person to create something with their old garbage and trash, I think that this shows that there are some uses for trash that many people may be overlooking. While we might not all be artists, there are ways for us to reuse certain household items in order to reduce the ever growing amount of pollution.
For more examples of cool art made from garbage, follow this link: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/16/world/environmental-green-art/index.html
Fracking… sounds inappropriate, right? Well many environmental activists believe that it is. Fracking is a term that refers to hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting natural gas from deep underground formations. The extraction method has caused many environmental problems and poses a threat to wildlife and people who live near the fracking sites.
“My Water’s on Fire Tonight” is a music video created by a team of students at Studio 20, NYU’s school of journalism, to address this controversy. The main issue that the song focuses on is the seepage of gas and toxic chemicals from the fracking fluid into fresh water supplies. In the documentary Gasland, people are shown lighting their tap water on fire because of the contamination.
Recently I have been watching more documentaries, which led Netflix to suggest Food, Inc and on a whim, I decided to watch it. Little did I know how much it would actually affect my thoughts about what I eat and making sure that my food comes from sustainable processes. Food, Inc. strives to diminish “the veil” between the average American consumer and what they eat.
The film is divided into three sections, the industrial production of meat, how the growth grains and vegetables differ from the past, and economic and legal power surrounding food. By beginning with the treatment of animals and people, it starts in a very startling way that sets the tone for the rest of the 93 minutes– how inhumane our food system has truly become. At times, it was hard for me to even watch. As it delves farther, Food, Inc. questions the environmental and economical sustainability of large-scale farming and uses stories of farmers to portray their hardships. The final segment addresses about legislation surrounding food systems, like how the FDA has changed to regulate less, food label laws so people know where they get food, and the power of the fast food system.
In the end though, the movie empowers viewers to change the way they buy food. One of the most poignant statements was that as consumers, we vote whenever we purchase from a grocery store. We vote when we choose potato chips rather than apples or Tyson chicken nuggets rather than chicken from a farmers market. I liked that it promoted change (they even offered tips at the end) and encouraged others to do so.
Although the animation scenes can be gimmick-y at times, I would definitely suggest Food, Inc. to anyone who is interested about food production (and especially if you have instant Netflix). It’s a great blend of factual and emotional evidence with knowledgeable people talking about the subject matter. If you don’t have time, the official website for the movie, Hungry for Change is still a way to educate yourself about these issues and to stay involved.
Waste Land is a 2010 Sundance award winning documentary directed by Lucy Walker which follows the renowned contemporary artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the fringe of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs groups of “catadores” who are pickers of recyclable materials. At first Muniz’s objective was to paint the catadores with garbage but his collaboration with these characters as they remake photographic images of themselves out of garbage exposes both the dignity and struggle these catadores face in re-imagining their futures.
This project uses media both through documentary and the art itself that Muniz creates. Muniz’ project is powerful in its ability to transform a group of people through art. The transformative capabilities of his contemporary art is then presented in a more accessible way via this documentary. The commentary and interviews with his subjects allow viewers to get a more intimate perspective on his art and feel the power of it more deeply. Vik Muniz’ portraits of these struggling peoples reveals the magic of the human spirit and thwarts the growing disparity we feel between our choices and their outcomes across the world.
I personally think this film is very successful and Muniz’ art itself aptly exposes the environmental injustices in Brazil and the grassroot environmentalism taking place in the small towns surrounding this dump. Muniz has a strong faith in the artistic power of change which is evidenced as garbage is turned into art. He fervently stresses that he is changing his subjects’ lives in a positive way by showing them another world even if they never leave Jardim Gramacho. Focusing on the individual characters in this film rather than the artistic process of Muniz is what makes this documentary so personal and so encouraging for viewers. I highly recommend Waste Land for everyone, it is currently on instant queue on Netflix.
The World Wildlife Fund for Nature is an international NGO that tackles issues such as conservation of biomes and restoration of the environment.They work in over 100 countries and support over 1,300 environmental projects. Their mission is to “halt and reverse the destruction of our environment”. They have the hope that they can build a future where humans can live in harmony with nature, a hope that I share. This group caught my eye when I came across one of their advertising campaigns. Most of their campaigns are centered around using the shock value of an image to get their message across, and an important message is is: acting fast for the world before it is too late. With the overload of media that each of us face daily, it takes something out of the ordinary to get our attention. That is exactly what these creative advertisements do, they break through the fog of the daily media overload to catch our eye. There are over a 100 of these advertisements which are used globally to raise awareness about:
There is a great variety of images with completely different themes allowing them to apply to a broad audience. A comprehensive list of over 100 such WWF advertisements can be found here. Most of these images are breathtaking and convey a message one would be hard pressed to put into words. Even more inspiring about these images is their wide appeal; they can be understood in any language and at any age. The only criticism I have to offer is that they aren’t more commonly displayed; such motivational images should be shared with everyone.
Over The River is a two-week temporary work of art by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The project requires 5.9 miles of iridescent fabric to be suspended above a section of the Arkansas River in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Visitors will be able to enjoy the art while boating on the river, walking on foot, or driving on nearby roads as they view beautiful scene of the sky and surrounding peaks through the incandescent panels. The project is supposed to enhance Colorado’s art community while creating an attraction for both Colorado resident’s and non-residents to enjoy.
The project is currently undergoing review from the Bureau of Land Management to make sure the project is safe for the surrounding environment. A local environmental group that was created in opposition of the Over the River project, Rags Over the Arkansas River (ROAR), has announced many of these environmental concerns. ROAR claims that the art could ruin local wildlife habitats (such as the bighorn sheep population) and create a nightmare of increased car traffic. After hearing that the project will require four drill rigs with 1,275 steel cables and 9,100 anchors to be placed into the riverbanks to support the panels, it is hard to see how there will be no environmental impacts.
While watching my weekly episode of The Office online, I stumbled upon NBCUniversal’s The More You Know campaign. Even though I’m not usually a fan of public service announcements, out of curiosity I decided to check out their website and I was surprisingly impressed. Their campaign began in 1989 and since then has gained acclaim for bringing awareness to what they believe are the most important social issues of the year. The main goal of the campaign is to “provide viewers with critical information that can improve their lives and the world we live in.” They utilize the stars of their popular TV shows (this year includes Alec Baldwin from 30 Rock, Ann Curry from NBC News, Ken Jeong from Community and more) and Barack and Michelle Obama have even gotten involved this year.
Through their public service announcements, they offer short and concise ways that viewers can change the way they live and thus hopefully change the impact on the world. The environmental PSAs involve a multitude of ways to change, from using reusable bags to how much energy that video games use to the importance of not throwing away clothes. Online they offer a more in-depth look at how to adopt environmental sustainable actions in regards to at home, work, the store, and in transit.
I like this advertisement because it is uses a pretty cheesy trope to jump right into its message and kick you straight toward participating in their campaign. In 30 seconds you know where to go. The Just Label It website is user-friendly and direct — perfect for the semi-interested web viewer who is sympathetic to their cause.
The people behind this campaign obviously spent a lot of time simplifying their goals and their message so that videos like this could come out and be shared very easily.
Are online petitions successful? …We will have to discuss that in a different post.
The Environmental Health Clinic at NYU is redefining the way people tend to ailments. They’re redefining what we include in the canon of ailments at that. Modeled after typical health clinics at universities, the Environmental Health Clinic, the brainchild of artist, activist, and scientist, Natalie Jeremijenko, approaches health from “…an understanding of its dependence on external local environments” (x design project). Jerimijenko uses different forms of media, rather it be robots or art, online clips or animals, to communicate her message creatively. By working in many different mediums and spreading her word with innovative uses of media, Jerimijenko is able to reach a large audience outside her immediate student body.
Like a regular clinic you make an appointment to talk about your particular concern. What differs from a normal health clinic is you leave without a typical Rx prescription, but rather a prescription for actions you can take and referrals not to other doctors but to specific art and design projects and environmental organization groups.
During an November 2011 interview with GOOD Magazine Jeremijenko explained her new approach to the way people engage with their environments, creating an alternative take on traditional “office hours.” This is just one innovation among many she has created to engage her students and patients more intimately with their environmental health concerns. Others include: read more…
Vanishing of the Bees (2010 – trailer after the jump) is a documentary that explores the impacts and causes of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a widespread epidemic of bee deaths in the US and other countries.
There are many things to learn from this documentary, examples both positive (+) and negative (-):
+ Goes in depth into the causes. Sometimes it is hard to answer questions in a video, while still maintaining an appealing narrative and engaging with a variety of people.
+ Effectively engages with a range of experts. In this movie we hear from beekeepers, scientists, and general environmental experts (celebrities, maybe) like Michael Pollan. The filmmakers use these interviews effectively…at least in the beginning of the movie.
+ Precautionary principle. They educate the viewer about the precautionary principle and the difference between US and European environmental policy without boring you or being too preachy. It is hard to talk about abstract concepts in a movie. read more…
The Johnson family from Mill Valley, California is a family that has chosen a distinctive way of living- almost completely waste free. The Johnson family goal? To live simpler and lighter on the planet. They accomplish this goal by living a completely different lifestyle. The mother of the Johnson family, Bea, has her own blog with which she explains how she has managed to reduce her family’s waste so drastically. Simple switches, such as paper towel for a microfiber cloth, are some of the easiest switches with the largest benefits she claims. Even their toothbrushes are compostable and can be ordered at environmentaltoothbrush.com .
In the kitchen she uses jars and cloth bags to store food, which she also brings with her to the grocery store to avoid unnecessary packaging. By not allowing trash to enter her home, Bea stops it from leaving. She takes every small amount of needless trash into account. She has even managed to greatly reduce the amount of junk mail her family receives by registering at https://www.dmachoice.org.
There have been critiques about whether this is fair to her children including the amount of toys they have but are the amount of toys a child has really the measure of their happiness? Most children bore of a toy after the first few times they play with it. This is why the Johnson family encourages gifts to their children to be “gifts of experience rather then things” such as a weekend of skiing. If anything this lifestyle is a gift to their children, helping extend the life of this planet for their future generations.
The Johnson family does not claim to be perfect as they do give into vices such as using makeup which has non-recyclable packaging or family trips to France each year. That being said the fact that they only produce two handfuls of trash per year, compared to the 4.4 pounds a day of the average American, is a large commitment to the planet. The Johnson family is an example we can all learn from.
The video story can be viewed at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41573752#41573752
The Beehive Design Collective, a volunteer organization that combines art and political activism, takes an innovative approach to informing people about environmental and political issues. Based in eastern Maine, the group has been spreading their ideals since their beginning in 2000 by creating detailed, large-scale graphics.
Through each of their enormous black and white tableaus, they illustrate the full, unabridged story of a particular environmental or political concern. Their intentions are to provide their audience with a medium that will engage them in ways that linear forms such as textbooks cannot. Members of the collective take the finished banners on tour, through which they are able to fully explain the intricacies of their design and acquaint the public with the subject matter on a deeper level. Their latest campaign, a canvas illustrating mountaintop coal removal in Appalachia and their largest scale project thus far, came about after two years of intensive research and collaboration and inspired an extensive nation-wide tour. read more…
Chevron Thinks We’re Stupid is a campaign started by (among others) the Yes Men, noted for their hoaxes in misrepresenting themselves as corporate executives and politicians as a form of activism to draw attention to issues that they believe are under-reported in the media.
The site gives a platform for activists to post posters and videos (example after the jump) that spoof Chevron’s “We Agree” campaign. The creators detail how activists have used different physical and digital media to criticize, condemn, and undermine a campaign that Chevron has dedicated tens of millions of dollars toward.
Here are a few interesting things to consider about this site and style of activism:
- Humor draws people in. The name is catchy. The posters are hilarious. After reading the posters, you may be more likely to look up read more…
The main goals of the poster/image seem to be (1) to make the viewer think more deeply about rainforest destruction and (2) to bring people to their website.
Note that besides visiting their website (which is only in German, even though the poster is in English), OroVerde decided not to use space to tell people how they think they should act, nor do they discuss what the organization is doing to reduce forest destruction.