Large Scale Problems don’t have small-scale solutions

Photographer and activist Chris Jordan approaches presenting the issue of climate change to the public through art by, instead of trying to individualize the contribution to the issue each of us shares, showing viewers the true scale of the problem with similar methodology to large-scale nature photographers. His artworks are largely aesthetic, their meaning coming from the cruel beauty of pollution and waste. The reason these works can be viewed as a tool for reflection, discussion, and awareness, is that they bring back an aspect lacking in other pieces on climate change: the true scale of our collective inaction. Sure, seeing your impact is important, however climate change is not just the plastic bottles you decide not to recycle; climate change is the erosion of climates due to millions of tons of waste, mountains of excess, and without seeing that clearly the gravity of the situation can fail to set in. Depending on the person the artwork will call to action to different degrees. Art is subjective, some pieces go for thousands, other for tens, while the true value for each individual differs beyond the digits in a price tag. In the end there can only be hope that such exposure plants a seed of activism in viewers. This artwork doesn’t try to dodge its own contribution to climate change, the project is not powerful because of its method but its beauty, it is art without sacrifices holding a provocative subject instead of being a provocative object. I could personally see the inspiration from such a piece coming from someone who thinks back to the piece with the idea of sustainability churning in their mind. Over time, such a piece could cause great change, but it will take a fanatic to do so.

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