Article about news media coverage of climate-related art

Hahn, U. & Vermeylen, F. (2023). Mirror or Hammer? News Media Coverage of Climate-Related Art, Environmental Communication, 17:2, 172-186. DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2023.2167848

Abstract: A growing momentum of artists and cultural institutions addressing climate change in their works and exhibitions can be observed in recent years. It is important to understand how such art is covered in quality newspapers because they can give meaning and importance to climate change, and cultural journalists act as mediators between cultural producers and consumers. This research asks: How is exhibited, visual climate-related art presented and evaluated in US and European quality newspapers between 2015 and 2021? Through qualitative content analysis of approximately 125 newspaper articles, this study reveals that climate-related art has been given a platform in quality newspapers, although more in some than others. It is frequently reported as reflecting on society – often the problems, and less the solutions – and shaping society. Climate-related art is evaluated based on its subversive power, topicality, environmental sustainability, and artistic qualities.

Article about artistic imaginations of climate change

Hahn, U. (2022). Artistic imaginations of climate change: from the far away to the here and now. Environmental Justice(20221202).

Abstract: Climate change has gained traction in artists’ works and exhibitions. This research aims at gaining a better understanding of visual artists who create climate-related art and are/were located in the central art market countries of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Germany—countries with considerable contributions to climate change and responsibility for action. Responding to calls for the further involvement of the humanities and sociology of the arts to address socio-ecological themes, this article addresses the question: How do artists’ imaginations of climate change relate to aspects of climate (in)justice? To answer this question, thirty interviews were conducted with artists who addressed climate change in their works. This study finds that the artists are, among others, driven by a desire to reduce distances (spatially, temporally, human-nature) and/or to engage with causes and impacts nearby. Many artists are concerned with climate (in)justice in various ways: with not only vulnerable, remote regions, future generations, and other species, but also nearby areas in the present. This study also shows that artists face ethical questions when engaging in climate topics. The research applies and reveals insights from the environmental humanities, emphasizing the connectedness of environmental challenges to social, cultural, and human aspects. The research is also situated within the sociology of the arts, the study of aesthetic practices in times of global inequalities, but also of hope, possibilities, and learning. Further, this research adds to the increasing awareness of climate change as a domestic issue.

Article about data art addressing climate change

Hahn, U. & Berkers, P. (2020). Visualizing climate change: an exploratory study of the effectiveness of artistic information visualizations, World Art.

Abstract: Artists creatively use scientific data in artistic information visualizations (AIVs) to address climate change. Yet, it is unclear how effective they are in making viewers consider climate change as important. To assess their reception, this research studies and compares AIVs in relation to four additional visual forms, which are common in the communication of climate change (information visualizations, news photos, digital art visuals and cartoons). Qualitative research consisting of a short survey, q-sort and semi-structured interviews was employed. Some AIVs were judged clearer and more agreed with than other AIVs, suggesting that a less abstract AIV style might be more suitable. In comparison to the other visual forms, the artistic information visualizations were the least effective in making viewers consider climate change as important. It appears that artists’ free choice of data focus and artistic styles faces limits when depicting a complex topic such as climate change. A need for clarity or accompanying descriptions to the visualizations, at least when targeted at the general public without art training, might be necessary. The study did not show distrust in art’s involvement in the climate change discourse.

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