all future skies are white
A project about the relevancy of art and visual futurity.
We live in a world where some cities see more white skies than blue. As a result of increased fossil fuel emissions and rapid global pollution, this change will one day be universal. One of the strategies to combat global warming is a process that releases particulate matter into the atmosphere. It reduces reflections of the sun's rays onto our ozone layer and evidently has the ability to, at least slightly, slow down climate warming. Smog in major cities actually accomplishes a similar task, but is obviously destructive in many other ways.
This project began as a mourning for blue skies. Using a machine learning algorithm, the goal was to create a system that would learn to predict the aesthetics of pollution. So you could give an image and it would algorithmically generate a 'polluted' version of it. The project was supposed to show us what our blue skies might come to look like. In order to question the role of art and its modes of resistance to climate change.
The system ran through about a hundred iterations of studies and tests in order to learn the stylization of the over 500 found polluted images.
The image set used to develop the generative process of the algorithm were found images of national parks and industrialized lands around the world. These environments felt important given their history of preservation and also aestheticization. The Hudson River School painters were famous in their ability to visualize and depict futures of our environment that called for preservation and conservation. Comparing Thomas Cole's 'The Oxbow' and Monet's 'Impression: Sun Riding',(below) we can see how art both reveals and disguises certain effects of our environmental destruction.
Our understanding of the causes and effects of our climate crisis necessitates a growing obsession with mapping, which is always a backward looking approach. Studies and predictions use data sets and information about established patterns to provide information about tangible knowledge. This project is not to minimize any of these essential pieces of information - it was created using similar visual information, data sets, artificially generated information in order to think about the different ways information is used to understand and combat a crisis.
I think it's important to think of other ways to communicate and inform the conversations we have about what the future actually looks like. The project argues for the necessity of art in being able to think about the ways we see the future, and about the ways we can think of better ones.