I am an artist devoted to communicating issues of climate change through my practice. For the past decade, I’ve been documenting the dramatic disappearance of glaciers with large-scale series of paintings and photographs developed in close collaboration with glaciologists. It’s a symbiotic relationship: I want my work to accurately reflect the science and the urgency of climate change, and they want me to help them explain their science to the public through my art.
I didn’t begin my career with such a goal. Instead, I just wanted to experience and depict the wonders of our natural world. Perhaps growing up in New York City is the reason I’ve always been drawn to open spaces and monumental geological phenomenon in the landscape. But expressing the beauty of our environment eventfully wasn’t enough. By the turn of this century I felt compelled to do more, to use my creativity to contribute to saving our planet. Now my goal is to seduce through the magic of the image, while at the same time introducing visual elements to stimulate awareness. I want the viewer to confront, and comprehend the dramatic pace of ecological change and share with me the urgency I feel.
I began this journey by collaborating with scientists who shared their archival material, such as chronological records of glacial degradation (repeats), and visual material mapping glacial recession, as well as Landsat imagery from USGS, NASA and NOA. I soon realized the need to participate directly - so decided to “bear witness” to the three largest ice fields in the world. In 2013, I explored Svalbard and Ny-Ålesund, and Antarctica’s Peninsula; in 2014, Greenland’s Jakobshavn and Ilulissat Glaciers; and in 2015 I returned to Antarctica as well as Argentina’s Patagonian ice fields. I have just returned from a two-month journey to Australia and New Zealand’s fast melting Southern Alps. I also visited The Great Barrier Reef whose death spiral is increasing dramatically.
Project Kai’Apapa is the next logical step on my journey to bear witness. The chance to do so with three other motivated and gifted individuals - Christine, Samiah and Evan is indeed a privilege.Such on-site experience enriches and informs my work leading to exhibitions that begin a dialog with audiences not initially interested in science. My track record of over 100 exhibitions bodes well for more to come as we embark on this multidisciplinary project.
Diane Burko's (b. 1945, Brooklyn) art focuses on monumental geological phenomena. To that end, she has investigated locations on the ground and in the air from open-door helicopters and planes with cameras and sketchpads. Traveling from the temperate zones of America to Western Europe, from rain forests to glaciers and active volcanoes below the equator, her art merges a vision that is at once panoramic, intimate and sometimes provocative. Burko’s practice (since 2006) at the intersection of art and science focuses on issues of climate change. Originally basing her imagery on research and visual data from scientists, she soon moved to bear witness directly in the Polar regions. In her painting projects such as Politics of Snow and Polar Investigations she explores visual strategies, translating data into imagery. In her recent photo projects, Deep Time and Elegy, that effort continues more metaphorically and abstractly. She sees melting glaciers as a key indicator of climate change. Before sailing around Svalbard in 2013 she joined a team of geologists in the Northern most research station in the world - Ny-Alesund, where she flew and landed on top of glaciers for two days. In February and March 2017 Diane explored melting glaciers in New Zealand’s southern Alps as well as rainforests and the Barrier Reef in Australia. Public engagement is integral to her practice – she appears on panels and colloquium on art and science, speaks to school children, think tanks, Conservancy groups and professional conferences such as the AGU and GSA and at the Academy of Natural Sciences, as well as at INSTAAR where she is an affiliate. Her most recent talk was at the 2017 International Cryosphere Conference in Wellington NZ.
Note: Diane Burko’s current solo exhibition: Shifting Glaciers, Changing Perspectives: Bearing Witness to Climate Change, will be on display at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas from May 4 to September 30, 2017.
For more info: www.glacialshifts.com
The rate of change of coral reef ecosystems in recent years are unprecedented. These observed changes are linked to anthropogenic degradation, as well as its vulnerability to climate change, both of which can have profound effects to the reef habitat and fish populations. These effects are already being witnessed today within coral reef ecosystems in our National Parks. However, the coral reef responses to climate change in National Parks have not been assessed and documented in a holistic manner. Here, we propose to examine the status and health of coral reefs within eight National Parks, and create a benchmark dataset of reef assemblages at each site to document and predict long-term reef responses to climate change. The objectives of this research are to: (1) determine resident coral species and their abundance; (2) identify coral’s vulnerability to bleaching and other diseases (e.g., algal growth, skeletal damage, tissue loss); and (3) determine the resiliency of these reefs. Using widely-accepted methodologies in coral reef studies, underwater videography and photography across five 10 m transects will be collected to document changes across reefs within each National Park. At each National Park site, ten random 1 m x 1 m quadrants will be photographed using the GoPro Hero 5 wide angle lens. The camera will be attached to a custom-built PVC frame. Videography will be used along five 10 m transects to also document reef change. Fish surveys will be conducted by visually logging and digitally recording taxa and their abundance during five-minute observation periods at three (of the five) 10 m transects. The photographs will be analyzed using Coral Point Count with Excel extensions (CPCe) software and ten random points per image will be used to determine the percentage of coral reef area covered by different coral taxa. Identification of coral bleaching, fish bites, and diseases will be classified from the collected underwater photo and videography. An additional, stationary, GoPro camera will be installed for the duration of each site visit to capture panoramic (360º) photographs. These panoramic photographs will be used to provide online multimedia streaming (e.g., live online feed of panoramic footage integrated into National Park websites) and compliment gallery installations. Accessory measurements, including salinity, temperature and pH, will also be measured at each reef visit to characterize baseline seawater conditions. These research efforts and results will help to quantify the diversity and abundance of coral taxa as well as help to visualize and document intra and inter-reef changes within the National Park system. Ultimately, these efforts will be integrated into the artist’s and research team’s efforts to visualize and capture the elegance and fragility of the nation’s coral reef ecosystems in a changing climate.
Samiah Moustafa recently received her PhD as a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow in the Department of Geography at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, studying under the advisement of Dr. Åsa Rennermalm. Her general research interests include Arctic hydroclimatology and assessing Greenland ice sheet meltwater losses at the pixel, catchment, and continental scale. Her current research focuses on characterizing seasonal changes in surface albedo and its modulation of melt in southwest Greenland’s ablation zone. Additionally, she is working on a research project that uses a multi-scale approach to evaluate different satellite-derived albedo product’s ability to capture the inherent spatial heterogeneity of albedo found along Greenland’s ablation zone. Prior to graduate school, Samiah and her family ran a project in the Red Sea, which started out as a high school international science fair project that turned into nearly a decade long running project assessing the health of a small fringing coral reef ecosystem. It resulted in them gathering external grant funding, a rich time series on the coral health, coral species, and fish population of the reef, as well as multiple scientific publications.
I am passionate about wildlife, on land and in the sea. My favorite time is underwater, photographing or filming sea-life, in a peaceful world where I can think more clearly and calmly than I ever can on the surface. As I go deeper, where there really is no sound, the calm envelops me and my mind makes music. The sea is my calm, her inhabitants my muse. As climate change progresses and the health of coral reefs markedly deteriorates, the entire ocean suffers – although they only cover ~1% of Earth’s surface, coral reefs provide food and shelter for nearly ¼ of all animals in the ocean. This project is important to me because, with this team – a composer, an environmental artist, a climatologist, and myself – I believe we can create a completely different and new approach to presenting the beauty, fragility, and essentialness of coral reefs. As a multi-faceted performance piece – to be presented as a live concert with video and a stage set of large-scale art, as gallery installations with our collected data and time-lapse footage of the reefs we will study, as a website documenting our entire exploration and presenting our finished work for the world to see – we hope to reach a large and diverse audience, and to inspire them to help protect the environment. With the current political state, we have decided to premiere Kai’Apapa in October 2018, to help raise awareness of these American reefs as we head into midterm elections.
Christine Southworth (b. 1978, Boston) is a composer, video artist and photographer based in Lexington, Massachusetts, dedicated to creating art born from a cross-pollination of sonic and visual ideas. Inspired by intersections of technology and art, nature and machines, and musics from cultures around the world, her music employs sounds from man and nature, from Van de Graaff Generators to honeybees, Balinese gamelan to seismic data from volcanoes. Southworth received a B.S. from MIT in 2002 in mathematics and an M.A. in Computer Music & Multimedia Composition from Brown University in 2006. In 2003 she co-founded Ensemble Robot, a collaborative of artists and engineers that design and build musical robots. She composed several pieces for Gamelan Galak Tika, and performed them at venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, EMPAC, the Cleveland Museum of Art, several Bang on a Can Marathons, and the Bali International Arts Festival. In 2010, she helped design Gamelan Elektrika for her piece Supercollider, which was premiered at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival with the Kronos Quartet. In addition to gamelan, she studies bagpipe, playing both the Galician Gaita and the Great Highland Bagpipe. Her compositions have been performed throughout the U.S., Europe, and Indonesia by ensembles including Kronos Quartet, Gamelan Galak Tika, Calder Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Gamelan Semara Ratih, California EAR Unit, Andrew W.K., and Ensemble Robot. She has received awards from the American Music Center, UCross Foundation, LEF Foundation, American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), the MIT Eloranta Fellowship, and Bang on a Can and has been a fellow at UCross Foundation and The Hermitage Artist Retreat.
An ongoing thread in my lifelong journey as a musician has been my ever-increasing awareness of the importance of place, both cultural and geographical, in my work. Over the years this awareness has taken many forms, both in my thought and in the music itself. My first major decision as an adult - at age 21, to be exact – was to go to villages in rural Indonesia to study traditional music. I spent much of the next decade there, and in that period was continually struck by the myriad ways in which the natural environment effected the music I was studying: the sounds of frogs, the rhythms of the sea, the life cycles imposed by agriculture, etc. This had a profound impact on me. In later years I’ve continually returned to nature for inspiration – my No Return for example was built around field recordings of the Salmon River, and composed on location in Idaho. All of the above can be described as ‘seeking inspiration,’ and certainly I’m impelled to do this project for that reason. But every artist also strives in their work to engage with and speak about the important issues of the day. To me nothing is more imperative than to raise environmental awareness in whatever way possible. My hope in this project is to do both: to once again find inspiration in the sights, sounds and texture of the natural world, and to use this as a way to increase that awareness in other people.
Evan Ziporyn (b. 1959, Chicago) is a composer, clarinetist and conductor. At MIT he is Head of Music & Theater Arts, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music, and Faculty Director of the Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST). He studied at Eastman, Yale & UC Berkeley with Joseph Schwantner, Martin Bresnick, & Gerard Grisey. His works have been performed by internationally acclaimed groups and soloists including Yo-yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, Brooklyn Rider, So Percussion, Maya Beiser, Wu Man, Sentieri Selvaggi, and Bang on a Can. Awards include a USA Artist Fellowship, the Goddard Lieberson Prize from the American Academy, Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship, the MIT Gyorgy Kepes Prize, and commissions from Carnegie Hall, Kronos Quartet, Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program, and Meet the Composer. His work is informed by his 35+ year involvement with Balinese gamelan. He received a Fulbright in 1987, founded Gamelan Galak Tika in 1993, and has composed a series of groundbreaking compositions for gamelan & western instruments, including three evening-length works, 2001's ShadowBang, 2004's Oedipus Rex (Robert Woodruff, director), and 2009's A House in Bali, which was featured at BAM Next Wave in October 2010. As a performer, he co-founded the Bang on a Can All-stars in 1992, performing with the group for 20 years. He has also toured and recorded with Paul Simon, Steve Reich Ensemble and Silk Road Ensemble (sharing in 1998 & 2016 Grammy Awards). As a conductor he leads the Boston-based Ambient Orchestra, and has led Ensemble Modern, the Barcelona Symphony, and Ensemble Resonanz at venues including Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Koln Philharmonic, Vienna Konzerthaus, National Sawdust, Calderwood Hall, and LA Opera Redcat.