Climate Change

While most of the posts in this directory relate in some way to climate change and the increasing pressure that humans are placing on the planet, through over-extraction of resources, excessive pollution, habitat loss through development and so on, the artworks presented in this tag cloud are explicitly responding to climate change. We’ve selected a handful of different types of projects to showcase, but keep exploring the site and you’ll find much more.

Rehearsing Catastrophe

Rehearsing Catastrophe: The Ark in Avoca was a temporary site-based art work by Lyndal Jones performed from the 1-3 December 2011. On the floodplain of the Avoca River in rural Australia an Ark materialises as a projection layered onto Watford House, home to The Avoca Project. Sounds and images of those animals already inside are heard and accompanied by thunder and lightning. As the boat takes shape against the night sky, people from Avoca and their guests line up at the gangplank for entry, disguised as animals. A poignant reminder of the fragility of species survival in light of climate changes and the spirit of a community to respond.

360 eARTh

In the lead up to Cancun, activist organisation harnessed the power of the arts to send a message from communities all around the world through giant works that could be seen from space. Many thousands of people responded to the call with poignant images referring to species loss, sea-level rise and future generations. The full set of EARTH photos can be viewed on their Facebook page.

when I was buoyant

The subjects in Josh Wodak‘s series of futurist portraits ‘when I was buoyant’, confront us with the dual realities of climate change and human nature. Posing in position of the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph, of Al Gore fame, their arms become the axis for plotting sea level rise which stretches 1,000 years into the past to a moment when, as Wodak point out, King Canute defiantly and eventually dejectedly faced the rising tide. The portraits offer up the space between the present moment and the fated year 2028 (when global temperatures are expected to rise 2 degrees), eerily questioning our ability to stay afloat.

Requiem for Fossil Fuels

Requiem for Fossil Fuels is the work of sound artists Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger (O+A). The performance features four accomplished singers chanting the requiem alongside O+A’s eight-channel digital orchestra of city sounds collected over 20 years and representing the voices our fossil-fuelled society – from helicopters to rush hour traffic to steel manufacturing. The Requiem is on tour in 2010, and was performed at St Joseph’s church in San Jose as part of the SJ01 festival to a standing ovation. O+A describe the work as a ‘timely and deep meditation on the culture, its fascinations, and its future’.

Cape Farewell Touring Exhibition

From the Cape Farewell expeditions comes the touring exhibition in London, Liverpool, Hamburg, Madrid, Tokyo in 2006, 2007, 2008 and now Cranbrook, USA in 2010.

Penguin Suicides

Taiwanese artist Vincent J.F Huang installed Penguin Suicidesunderneath the Millenium Bridge in London in March 2010 with a letter from ‘Penguins Representative Bureau of London’ appearing on his website to explain the creatures’ act of protest and personal sacrifice in the name of global warming awareness raising. The plight of animals in the North and South poles is poignantly represented by this work, which attracted much attention.

Climate Clock

The Climate Clock Initiative seeks to generate a work of public art in San Jose that draws on the technical and artistic prowess of silicon valley to engage the population in understanding and acting on climate change. The work is to last 100 years and be designed to a budget of $20million. Started as a competition, a number of short-listed teams have been working since 2008 to develop the winning concept, which was revealed in 2012 as the Organograph. The Initiative also seeks to expand the concept to other cities worldwide, to combine cutting edge technology for data measurement and display with arts’ power to communicate and engage.


Mirage brings an iceberg to a city’s public square using 3D photography and a unique viewing system that allows for an up-close and personal experience of wonder. Through the positioning of binocular shaped ‘viewers’ around Melbourne’s iconic Federation Square, artist David Burrows creates the actual scale of the iceberg, which took about 30 minutes to walk around and occupied the same space as many city centre buildings. Burrows developed Mirage from an expedition to Antarctica as 2011’s Australian Antarctic Division Arts Fellow, Visual Artist.


The Organographis the winning entry of San Jose city’s Climate Clock Initiative, which called for public art proposals to communicate and engage the public on climate change over a period of 100 years. An ambitious vision, the Organograph is a moving educational showcase that plants a path and garden depicting real-time concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere as well as average annual temperatures. Solar powered and standing at 5 stories when it is eventually built, the work has an associated education and communication strategy that ensures it will reach to many as a powerful communicator of otherwise intangible and invisible phenomena. The work of Geo Homsy, Chico MacMurtrie and Bill Washabaugh, the Organograph is an exemplar of inter-disciplinary collaboration.

Air-Port City

Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno‘s work speaks to us of an alternative way of living, through the creation of self-contained ecosystems that invite us to live in floating worlds or bubbles, free from borders and free from a potentially polluted world. He approaches the subject of climate change from the viewpoint of an architect offering a Utopic vision, one which is both inviting and frightening if we consider that we might need to create alternative worlds if we continue to allow the earth to degrade. Saraceno’s work also poetically emphasises the links between all living things through the intricate and complex web that his own creations exhibit.


Doomed, a video work by Australian artist, Tracey Moffatt, consists of a series of edited catastrophic moments spanning the last 50 or so years of cinema. This relentless experience of disaster becomes almost comic as we face up to our human fascination with the destructive forces of nature – including those of our own making. Doomed gives us pause to consider whether we somehow, subconsciously desire this end and whether such warnings will have the ability to turn us away from our doomed path.

Carbon Ecologies

Australian artist, curator and environmentalist Richard Thomas, has been working for over 20 years in various media exploring the intersect of art, culture and environment, including the carbon cycle and climate change. His 2008 project Carbon Ecologies, exhibited a range of works by different artists on the themes of the carbon economy and management in different countries, including a video works, painting, photography and installation. Local brown coal burnt in real time to generated the electricity which lit the exhibition.


Distracted, a poetic interpretation of scientific ice core samples taken in Antarctica, is the work of Brisbane-based art, design, and media production collective Kuuki. An installation of acrylic tubes housing LEDs, resin bubbles, found organic matter and sensors, Distracted is an evocative and interactive experience, evoking ice, fluids and the notion of change. A number of data sets are used to create the abstract visualisation and sonification in the work, creating a unique context for understanding human presence and impact on the planet.

Measuring Cup

A simple representation of Sydney’s climate data, Mitchell Whitelaw’s Measuring Cup makes it possible to hold the past 150 years of temperature information in the palm of your hand. Generated and printed using 3D technology, Measuring Cup uses temperature averages, like the rings of a tree, only stacked vertically. The result is delicate and beautiful, like the climate it represents, and it raises the question ‘what shape will it take in 10, 20 or 50 years?’


Plunge is a new climate change-themed public artwork in the City of London by artist Michael Pinsky. Sited in three locations around key historic monuments, Plunge communicates future sea level rise through an elegant series of LED powered rings. Each ring shows where the Thames is expected to reach in the year 3111 if current carbon pollution trends continue. In the words of the artist, at one level the work places the viewer deep below the water’s surface, and at another level the work “suggests a protective shell, proposing that we have a chance to change this situation.”

High Water Line

Highwaterline is a public art project of artist, Eve Mosher, who in 2007 walked 70 miles of coastline within New York City leaving behind her a line of blue chalk marking the level of predicted sea rise of 10 ft. As Mosher walked the line, she interacted with curious residents and was able to engage with them on the subject of climate change.

Climate Bubbles

Climate Bubbles was a playful, participatory, mass data collection project in Manchester which engaged citizens in collecting information on air flow, thereby informing the Met Office about the Heat Island Effect. Futuresonic and Landcaster University teamed up with the Met Office to work with artists and scientists to devise an inventive, engaging way to collect this otherwise elusive data. Lead artists were Drew Hemment, Alfie Dennen, and Carlo Buontempo.

Every one, Every day

Priscilla Bracks and Gavin Sade took their studio name from the Japanese idea of kuuki which considers ‘things we take for granted but cannot live without.’ Interestingly, the literal translation is ‘atmosphere.’ Cleverly combining these ideas, Every One, Every Day is a 27m3 cube, which is roughly equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gas produced by, yep, every one of us, every single day. Made from recycled plastic supplied by Visy (and returned to Visy at the end of the festival), the temporary installation is animated by an internal LED-lit sphere which responds to energy grid data from the Australian Energy Market. As part of the Vivid Festival, Every One, Every Day is a big hulking reminder of the impact we each make on our life sustaining planet.