Express press service
The rain and hailstorm experienced in parts of Delhi on Wednesday was a respite from the severe heatwave that gripped the city last week. However, it cannot be ignored that the mercury exceeded 43 degrees Celsius on Friday, making it the highest temperature ever in April.
Temperature variations as well as the increase in heat waves in the sub-continent are consequences of climate change. While it is primarily policy makers who have the solutions to these problems, artists around the world have made it their business to draw attention to this impending disaster through their works.
Contemporary Indian artists have also worked in different mediums to create artworks that explore the human-nature relationship, drawing attention to soaring temperatures, loss of biodiversity, dwindling green cover and the increasing human impact on the environment.
A comment on the present
Artists have the potential to create striking images, which stay with the viewer for years. To illustrate the impact of art, take a look at recent work by Gigi Scaria which highlights the issues of overconsumption and man-made changes affecting the environment. The artist’s recent untitled work (as part of the Vadehra Art Gallery) at the India Art Fair 2022 showcases “manufactured humanity alongside its ongoing environmental concerns”.
The artist intentionally tilted this upright brass sculpture of a building to the side. “My concerns are always about ‘senseless manufacturing’, whatever it is. Construction sites are a great example of that. Probably, nature has much more powerful ways of dealing with everything we do.” explains the resident from Noida.
Scaria recently unveiled another project titled “Elevator From A No Man’s Land” at KHOJ’s Air Expo 2022 – it was part of their “Does the Blue Sky Lie?” which addresses issues surrounding air toxicity – which focuses on similar concerns.
In another recent series of aesthetic photographs, “Imagined Homeland” by Sharbendu De, the photographer shows how calamitous “human alienation from nature is”. The photographs capture moments in the lives of members of the indigenous Lisu community, who live in the jungles of Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh.
The quaint and picturesque images, all in shades of blue, highlight the values of this community while generating a broader feeling about the unfettered importance of nature in our lives. In a similar vein, “In the Forest of the Mind” by origami artist Ankon Mitra is where he takes a mythological route to highlight the interdependence of humans and nature, which, if flouted, will result in a dystopian world as exhibited in the works. paintings by Kolkata-based contemporary visual artist Bholanth Rudra.
“I have the impression that art is a visual language and a means of protest. For ages, man, for the improvement of his way of life, breaks mountains and cuts down forests to develop cities and cities. However, by destroying the many trees that have grown on this land for many years, we will even lose the oxygen we need to breathe. In this development, we are hurting ourselves. I think it is necessary to create balance in order to live a better and fulfilled life,” says Rudra.
The art of AI to showcase climate change
In recent times, creative practitioners have broadened the horizons of art by incorporating technology in order to create works that are not only attractive but also educational. Tools such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc. are considerable mediums for creating immersive pieces that can call attention to important issues.
In support, “Whale Tales” is a storybook with AI-generated imagery, a recent exhibition that highlights the role whales play in the fight against climate change. “When we kill a whale, it’s the same as killing 1,700 trees, because that’s the amount of carbon a whale removes from the planet. Nearly 50,000 whales are killed every year. Imagine the impact,” says Uma Khardekar.
Khardekar co-created this project with Arnab Chakravarty, Nikita Teresa Sarkar, Padmanabhan J and Sayak Shome while on fellowship with Bengaluru-based BeFantastic, an organization that works at the intersection of technology and art. The book, aimed at children and adults alike, aims to raise awareness and educate people about the importance of wildlife species in our collective ecosystems.
“We created three characters in this book that are based on actual whales that researchers have observed. We developed a story around that and then used AI to drive the story forward,” Khardekar explains.
Through “Weeping Farms” and “2030 Net Zero, 2022”, the artist duo Thukral and Tagra – Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra – took the path of game design to launch a debate on the climate crisis. Players can observe a female farmer and learn about her battles to survive, while the latter allows the player to save resources and balance the earth’s temperature through the maps, each extending a lesson on how to manage the environment.
Such works not only raise awareness among citizens, but also create a space for dialogue in which individuals have the opportunity to revisit their relationship with the environment, thus reimagining their realities and the future, a necessary condition in these demanding times. .