(Tereza Vlckova, ‘A Perfect Day, Elise’, 2007)
Hip hop is the way to people’s hearts and consciences.
This was my belief when I wrote the rap ‘Environment’ and performed it, with three other friends for the whole school dressed in dungarees and adorned in plastic flowers.
‘Guilt’, I thought. That is the other way to people’s hearts and consciences.
With lyrics like ‘remember not to be so mean and keep the air nice and clean’
‘all of the fishies in the deep blue sea are tired of you and me’
I was positive that if I could seduce my audience in to a hip-hop trance and make them feel really bad about the way they lived, it would inspire change in their hearts. Perhaps I would become famous and eventually do a sweet environmental collab with my hero at the time, Mariah Carey.
I was nine.
So naive. *
No one cared about that stupid song except my teacher, who made me do it all the time.
Did I give a shit about the environment? Maybe. I think so. I know I also really liked telling other kids what to do. … I did like animals a lot, but did I really know what it meant to care about what happened to our natural environment? No. Lord knows why I actually wrote that rap (it wasn’t the last) but deep down I know it wasn’t entirely to do with saving the world. I had the hiphop beats in my soul and perhaps I felt inspired by my dog and those wicked ads about putting stuff in the bin at the time and liked the idea of being thanked by mother nature who, to this day I still picture as Gi from Captain Planet.
I give big shits now. Most of us do now, right? Our earth is really fragile, beautiful and terrifyingly changeable, we know this now more than ever. I believe the more knowledge we have about our natural environment, the more deeply we understand our relationship with it. Science helps. Science is good at telling us what is going on.
Thank you Science, thank you so much. Thanks for understanding everything so well and for endeavouring to find ways to fix shit.
Science has some amazing websites, like the ‘Global Footprint Network’.
Go and look now.
It is an amazing website full of some pretty scary shit. If you are anything like me, you look at this website and you go ‘oh..wow this is amaizing…oh god…oh no…oh, we’re fucked.’
Now look at this one website filled with Climate Street Art:
This website is also mind-blowing, only in a completely different way.
Science has been telling us about climate change for decades and yet we still aren’t interested, on the whole, in taking dramatic action. We know that if we don’t do something radical and huge in the next 10 years the consequences could and most probably will be catastrophic. I consider losing beautiful reefs and species of beautiful animals at a rapid rate quite catastrophic and sure most of us would. And yet so many people just can’t stand the thought of a tax on carbon.
A climate movement is what we need. And both fortunately and unfortunately it is art that creates big fat firey hot movements, not science.
In ‘Huff Post Green’, 2010, Bill Mchkibbon, Author of ‘Earth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet’ says:
‘You don’t build movements with bar graphs. You Build them, in part, with art….And with everything that engages the right brain. Or that engages the heart, trusting that where the heart leads, the brain will follow.’
So, how is it that art is able to reach the heart?
I think, by appealing to that very big part of us that responds physically and emotionally to images and sounds. It is art that can stir up feelings of nostalgia, empathy, love and hope.
For me, it’s hope that is the real key here.
I was fortunate enough to attend the official Earth Hour party this year at the MCA because Jess Bellamy’s Sprout had been shortlisted for an award!
The aim of Earth Hour this year was to encourage people to switch to renewable sources of power and on this particular evening the focus was on the role of the arts in inspiring people to make these changes. The speakers were ya standard artists, politicians and engineers BUT QUITE EXCITINGLY each was united in their belief that people are capable of creating enormous change in our world when we come together. And I think every single one of them used the word ‘hope’. It was a great night.
By merely looking at an entry in the Climate Street Art project I feel I am a part of a movement that already has momentum. I feel hopeful about change. This is quite different to the helpless depressed feeling I get when I learn a new climate prediction or become aware of some new statistic. And I think that most of us are more likely to share ‘Climate Street Art’ with our friend on facebook, twitter and tumblr than we would be with a barrage of scary statistics.
We all live on the same earth, it is important to know the science, but there is something magical and powerful about environmental art. It allows us the freedom to assess how the facts relate to our own lives, beliefs and our own intricate relationship to our earth.
Guys, before you get all excited, I don’t actually rap any more…so, I don’t have any new material on the environment…but if it’s sweet environmental beats you are after- check out youtube.
If you are interested in art with environmental/climate change focus, check this out.
‘Creating Worlds’ at the NGA
* Mariah Carey is still one of my heros.