Mixed media on paper
Video (1:06) - Watch on Vimeo.
There had been plenty warnings. Severe weather events due to climate change have been increasing every year. But the summer of 2021 struck a different cord for me when the extreme heat waves in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon took place in June. It wasn’t the middle of the summer yet, and a small town in British Columbia set Canada’s heat record at over 121 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of June.
Severe floods, landslides, wildfires, drought, and ice melting followed at an unprecedented rate after. By mid-June, Western Europe experienced raging floods, and northeastern Siberia was seeing the worst wildfires again, for the third year in a row. Madagascar was suffering from famine solely caused by global warming. In August, a whole town of Greenville in California was lost to the Dixie Fire. I was feeling anxious even though I was not directly hit by any of these extreme weather events. How many more disasters do we need to see before we make necessary changes to combat climate crisis seriously? Are we grasping the scale of these disasters, but still willing to go on as business as usual?
I started making drawings of words that often describe things we were losing in these extreme weather events—Homes, Forests, Towns, Cities, Ice, Lives, Food, Water, Everything, and so on. One word for each drawing, reflecting specific events. I chose to use Climate Crisis Font.
The Climate Crisis Font was developed by the Nordic’s largest newspaper Helsinging Sanomat. The font’s weight responds to NSIDC’s (National Snow and Ice Data Center) Arctic sea ice data from 1979 to 2019 and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s prediction all the way to 2050. One can visually get a sense on how much the ice has been melting and how much it is expected to melt in the future based on current forecasts.
I used the font with the future prediction, mostly for 2050. Some of the alphabets are difficult to read with the 2050 prediction as their shapes melt to thin lines. Title includes the published date of an article about these extreme weather event and location.
On the back of each drawing, I wrote excerpts from an article. References are included on this website. Even though sometimes media treatment on natural disasters was making me hopeless, it was important to have reports nonetheless, and as a reader I didn’t want to shut my eyes. I wanted to know everything that was happening, but of course, it was impossible to know everything.
I did not have any ideas what these drawings meant to me or what I would do. At some point in the middle of the summer, it became my nightly activity as I read newspaper and there were always some news about natural disasters.
After completing over fifty drawings, I decided to make a short video using these images. Each image flashes quickly and video ends with the word, Future.
It felt wrong to flash these words that mean so much, but it also felt right about the speed of accelerating extreme weather events we’re experiencing.
In some way, one word is enough to feel urgency. These drawings were made mostly in the summer of 2021. My last entry in this series was from November 21, 2021.
- Naoe Suzuki, 2022