Human Impacts Salon – July 2014

On, July 16 2014, The Human Impacts Institute hosted a Human Impacts Salon on Creative Climate Communication – encompassing art and climate, here in Manhattan. The evening comprised of networking as well as a panel discussion on the topic of re-communicating climate change, and how to inspire people to participate. The evening began with a dance performance choreographed by Jody Sperling, interpreting the movement of Ice in the Arctic. Tara DaPorte, Human Impacts Institute’s Executive director led the discussion on what impacts art and science have in changing the state of the climate today.

Panelists included Althea Viafora, curator and founder of Althea Viafora Associates; Katie Holton, visual artist; Jody Sperling, dancer and choreographer as well as Founder and Artistic Director of Time Lapse Dance; Julian Cheevers, advertising professional and Group Account Director at Droga5; and Sabine Marx, Managing Director at the Center of Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia.

The discussion began with a simple yet thought provoking question, “are there opportunities or obstacles when it comes to art versus science?” The panelists agreed that while science and art are different on many levels, when combined they are effective in introducing key ideas and actions that can be taken to change the current state of the environment.

When the panelists were asked, “what does climate change look like?”, Katie Dalton explained through a piece of her own art. What looks like constellations as seen by humans from earth, is actually a recreated image of the amount of lights we have created. Her piece shows that we are making an impact on the way our planet is viewed, without even realizing it most of the time. When a viewer understands what they are seeing in her art, they must also acknowledge their impact on the planet.

Many of the panelists agreed that the main catalyst that would enable communities to truly take part in change is accessibility. Art can provide such availability, it can provide an emotional trigger which can be supplemented by further scientific information. It is also important to initiate steps that are not overwhelming and attainable in many situations. Julian provided the example of donating a dollar for tap water at restaurants, to be donated to the UNICEF. These measures can be a simple way to begin the changes that need to occur.

After a provoking discussion on art and science, and how they both contribute to the public understanding of climate change, the solon closed with panelists giving their opinion on what a climate win could be. Among the answers were technology and big business. Big business can set an example of change, and drive positive goals in how they practice. Initiatives from these businesses along with the way technology has increased in such a short amount of time could help facilitate the change we need to see.

Here are a couple of videos that were shown at the Salon. Do they inspire you?

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