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Digital Afternoon Tea: ART x TECH x NATURE, an Earth Day panel discussion chaired by Karina Abramova

Poster for Earth Day 2022 event
  • Written byPost-Grad Community
  • Published date 14 April 2022
Poster for Earth Day 2022 event
Image: Climate Emergency Network

Words by Karina Abramova

I always believed that to change a person’s mind, one must appeal to the emotions. The mind will nozzle its way in to post-rationalize a heartfelt move. Judgments and choices are influenced by emotions, according to years of neuroscientific and psychology research. To ignite behaviour change, one must ignite people’s imaginations.

The whole world knows that we are approaching irreversible, unimaginable, and unprecedented ecological consequences if climate change goes unchecked and unopposed. Here in the MA Applied Imagination cohort at Central Saint Martins, I ask myself daily, how might art today play a more materially active role in mitigating climate change?

Artworks have a bit of history with environmental causes. For the very first Earth Day in 1970, artist Robert Rauschenberg used his work toward supporting environmentalism. He was commissioned by the American Environment Foundation in Washington, D.C. to create a poster for the event. While it painted a grim picture, it also brought light to the issue and, no doubt, activated a few people: 10,300 posters were sold, and the proceeds went toward environmental groups. Today, the wider world and UAL in particular mark the day with the level of attention and activity this mission deserves.

Poster from the first Earth Day in 1970
Image: Robert Rauschenberg

I ask, how might we nudge the artistic community toward affecting positive environmental change. Is it even possible? Let us recall the Buckminster R Fuller 1938 classic “Nine Chains to the Moon” where he shares that if all the people living on the planet at that time stood on each other’s shoulders, we could cover the distance to the Moon nine times. That number would be much, much higher today. Yet collectively, we do not realise – or size – the power that we, humans, have.

What if, in designing this new form of art activism, we used the tools of contemporary technology and its best features of speed, borderlessness, scalability and reach? Especially with emerging technologies that are climate neutral by design. How might we experience it if we embraced the possibility of a synergistic relationship between nature and technology?

These are the questions I explore in my ongoing project Las Palmas Doradas, with the ultimate goal of creating ecological narratives for the digital age and establishing new patterns of positive climate behaviour. I believe that, collectively, the creative community can co-create a new ecological language and actions which cause ripples in people’s hearts.

I was lucky enough to experience negative impacts of human activity on the environment first hand. I say “lucky” because the experience moved me so profoundly that I made a drastic and inspired choice to throw myself and my skills at tackling environmental issues head on, tearing up my personal and professional trajectory to date. Perhaps the new wave of art activism could onboard more souls to the journey.

Welcome Earth Day: Appetite for Climate Justice. On April 22, 52 years after Rauschenberg’s ecological activism piece, all over UAL, communal spaces will be taken over to create a series of collective experiences in the name of social and environmental justice. To spark the debate about the potential relationship between creativity, technology, and nature, I am thrilled to be chairing a digital panel on this topic, inviting students, staff, and external friends of the university to join.

Grab a cup of tea and tune in at 3:30pm GMT to what promises to be a lively debate between an art world personality, environmentalists, community builders and technologists. We will discuss how we might bring about more art activism and environmental change while elevating mass ecological consciousness.

Register for the event HERE

When: 3:30-5:00PM GMT, Friday 22 April 2022

Where: Zoom

Poster of panel members for Earth Day 2022 event
Image: Climate Emergency Network

PS. If you are interested in the art-tech-nature topic described above, please sign up to Karina's upcoming newsletter.

Plans are ongoing to launch a Post-Grad Community Interest Group to work through this proposition. The group will explore and imagine pathways to better regenerative futures through debates and education, hands-on interventions and event visits, thought leadership and play.

Related links

UAL Earth Day 2022 full programme

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UAL Post-Grad Community

Established in 2013, Post-Grad Community is an inclusive platform for all UAL postgraduate students to share work, find opportunities and connect with other creatives within the UAL and beyond. Find out more