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May 24, 2007

New Work on New Climates


Curated by Shane Brennan

New Work on New Climates: 800 Steps Apart (2007) by Brooke Singer and Brian Rigney Hubbard: 800 Steps Apart questions the response (and responsibility) of government agencies in environmental crises. The administration of toxin-cleanup after 9/11, the video shows, was not uniformly thorough or competent, leaving some victims to suffer the consequences of their contaminated environments. With this terrifying revelation, we are led to question how our government will manage future ecological and environmental disasters that lie on the horizon as a result of climate change. Indeed, 800 Steps Apart challenges the local/global opposition. By uniting a highly localized issue—contamination in Lower Manhattan—and questions of national environmental leadership, the video simultaneously addresses a narrow and broad audience. The way such disasters are handled—even at the level of neighborhoods, blocks and apartments—is relevant to us all; it speaks to our ability and preparedness to deal with environmental emergencies on the global scale—a response that will certainly be tested in decades to come.


Methane (2007) by Michael Alstad: Have we overlooked one of the largest factors in global climate change? Methane is an eye-opening and devastating portrait of the livestock industry as a main producer of greenhouse gas emissions. Our contribution to a destabilizing climate does not stop at the toxins being dispensed into the water and air, but includes the animal products we farm and consume. Alstad emphasizes a circuit between the unnatural living environments of stockyards, ensuing environmental damage, and the Arctic ecosystems that are impacted. Though the footage is shocking, the real cause for alarm—and motivation for immediate action—lies in the causal relationship that is exposed. Why has this link been so often ignored or concealed? What other aspects of the debate have been deliberately left in the dark?


National Agenda (2007) by Gail Wight: National Agenda is part political activism and part Theater of the Absurd. Wight expresses dissatisfaction with our government’s response to global climate change with an intentionally preposterous and violent spectacle. Is this how our political leaders understand (or fail to understand) the changes occurring on our planet—as simply a blunt matter of “things getting hotter”? Coming into harsh contrast with the slick, effects-heavy computer renderings of Earth’s ecological future used in television reports on climate change, National Agenda’s humorous foregrounding of artifice asks us to question the depth of our own understanding of and commitment to the issue. What is the national agenda for climate change?


Rising North (2007) by Jane D. Marsching: As a rendering of scientific data and media reports on climate change in the Arctic, Rising North gestures towards our incapacity to truly absorb and process the magnitude of this information. Rather than recapitulating words or numbers, the video offers emotive fields of experience (both in the visual and auditory spectra) through which we might derive a new, if strikingly incomplete, understanding of “our farthest north.” Rising North, through its ambiguous color modulations and operatic voice that hovers at the limits of intelligibility, may propose that our comprehension of the Arctic is already necessarily partial—it is a region most of us will never encounter first-hand—even as it becomes a heated locus in the climate change discussion. By selecting opera to be the vehicle of conveyance, Marsching also suggests that the Arctic has become a stage upon which the media spectacle of “global warming” is being enacted; we will listen intently to the dramatic tale of its transformation, thawing and steady climb into the frightening upper registers.

And much more >>

Posted by jo at May 24, 2007 04:39 PM