Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Art can show us what’s wrong with our Planet

Image courtesy of Nautilus Mag

With our unit on Aesthetics leading us into the winter break, our philosophers may enjoy this tour of curated art installations that call the human species to take note of the degradation taking place in the natural world:

Earth is on the brink of a mass extinction—the first in 66 million years, and it’s caused primarily by human activity. Scientists first detected this epochal event by calculating diversity in our forests and taking the temperature of our atmosphere, and they now outline steps we must take to deter the grim global prognosis. Engineers, following suit, havesuggested ways to change human industry to reduce our footprint and try to soften the damage done. Ideally, politicians react, too, transforming scientific insight into Earth-friendly leadership.

But what’s the part of the professional painter or sculptor? In the presence of environmental anxiety, what can the artist do?

In the 1960s, just as Rachel Carson was publishing her landmark book Silent Spring—often referred to as the catalyst of the environmental movement—a new kind of visual art sprung to life. Through art created in outdoor environments rather than the white walls of a studio, “ecological artists” sought to illuminate the most serious environmental issues of their time. They revealed often-ignored details of the world with unorthodox mediums like graffiti, planted fields, and even mountains. Here are some lessons that their ecological artworks have bared about our planet in flux.

 

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