The 1.5 Degrees project team are Liverpool John Moores University Graphic Design and Illustration students and staff who have joined us to explore how designers, illustrators and creative climate communication can inspire action on climate change. The group are currently researching around this theme and working with our team to develop a site specific installation for Edge Hill Station in 2023.
Here, 1.5 Degrees team artist-in residence Owen Rutland discusses the development of the project and the role graphic designers could play in responding to the environmental crisis.
Hi! I’m Owen, a member of the 1.5 Degrees team and a graphic design student at LJMU. Recently, I have been exploring ways that I can document my culture, leaning into high concept designs and I’m interested in progressing my original zine to see how context can influence the viewers initial reception.
Photos of my zine that documents the generational tradition of collecting pub glasses. This is being expanded to a sort of family tree crime board project.
I think when deciding whether I wanted to take on the 1.5 Degrees project or not, I thought about how much it irritates me how billionaire corporations push green products, ideas and innovations whilst also causing the most pollution and damage to the Earth’s climate. And, from a design perspective, I was intrigued about ways that I could create a positive spin on green innovations and climate change activism because carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders isn’t inspiring. We need community to create change, to force the giant corporations to adhere to the new status quo. But how do we do that? That’s why I took on the 1.5 Degrees project.
So far, we’ve been visiting green community sites such as Farm Urban, where their innovations involve the food industry, as well as being introduced to new perspectives and green innovations to lower and even completely diminish our carbon footprint, like hydrogen fuel cells.
Photos taken in Farm Urban of their LED systems that are used to grow vegetables.
As for the physical installation, we’ve been trying to focus on the accessibility of our creations and emphasising the importance of connecting with our target audience. Knowing how people will for the most part be too busy to stop for longer than a few minutes, we feel that we must do something that grabs their attention whilst also keeping the atmosphere positive.
The team will have a site-specific installation of work at Edge Hill Station next year, focusing on green energy and innovations. This project is about bringing positive energy and acknowledgement to green innovations, and presenting it to the general public.
I feel that it is imperative that we do a project like this now as we are one of the final generations that can truly have an impact on the climate crisis and diminish the effects of it – saving wildlife and ourselves. From my experience in this project, those who are working in the industry of green innovation believe that by taking away the convenience of our everyday lives we can become more involved in our communities, through community gardens and greenhouses for example, and be more inclined to make a change because we will not be stuck in our own personal bubble. So, to me, getting people to slow down and engage in their communities is key.
As creatives, we can act as a bridge between scientists, academics, data and audiences, finding new ways to present information that could help to keep people motivated to act. I think it’s important for designers to always think of the ethics of their work, who they are working for and the goal they are trying to achieve for their client. From projects like Eco-bot.net (that use social media bots to point out misinformation and also point people in the direction of credible sources) we can see the positive impacts that our design choices can have on the world around us, how clearing the fog of misinformation is possible through design.
ECO-BOT.net – an online intervention challenging corporate greenwashing and climate change disinformation online
I am working on the documentation of green innovations and finding ways to highlight these. Coming from a working-class background, I naturally gravitated towards focusing on the class issue that excludes and removes us, the average person, from the conversation whilst also blaming us for the way things are. It seems that as we are struggling to survive from month to month with energy crises and housing crises, we could become too narrowly focused on our own perspectives and give no time for other issues.
I am collaborating with another member of our team, Aly, and we are exploring themes of slowing down, community and progress. We want to present people with a new, sustainable perspective on themselves and their communities.
This idea of recreating and restructuring the world in a more energy efficient, wasteless way is incredibly interesting. I found that just by being aware of the innovations being made and invested in by the millions was enough to snap me out from feeling hopeless to acknowledging that there are people out there constantly fighting and innovating to make a difference. As a lot of our ideas are just starting out, it’d be best to leave any sneak-peaks of the project for the next blog!
“Waste is just a lack of human imagination” has been a sort of driving force for our contribution to this installation and so has the ArtIsTrash movement – whilst aesthetically we may not decide to go the same route, the philosophy that making waste useful, and with it being used to draw people’s attention I think ties in well with our project’s ethos.
ArtIsTrash movement – bin bags and litter left on the street is transformed into art.