What is Multimedia's Role in Climate Activism?

Bea Harrison
May 27, 2021

Here at Teach The Future, we have a theory called ‘The Golden Thread’. This is essentially the idea that climate education should be included in every single subject- and not just siloed into the sciences or geography. This is because the current crisis is and will continue to affect everyone, and therefore should be understood by everyone and not just those wanting to become a geologist. This builds a deeper connection between people, their passions, and how these may be affected in the future; and hopefully motivating them to make a change on a personal level as well as lobbying for institutional change.

Lets face it, we have all at least once been in a lesson, maybe it’s the last period before lunch or the end of the day, and in complete honesty, you’re tired and you might not be that interested in what the teacher is saying. Now ask yourself, what would make you pay more attention; being slapped in the face with a wave of daunting statistics, such as the fact that current emissions levels suggest that the planet will warm by an estimated 4 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, or maybe something that hits a bit closer to home, something more than just numbers? Such as artworks by Lori Nix depicting the effects of natural disasters, fueled by the changing climate and extreme weather.

The City — Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber
  • Above: Example of artwork by Lori Nix

Passion is persuasion. Art in any form can be a way to communicate facts but also to express emotion. Because this is a humanitarian issue, not just an environmental one, and what are humans if not emotional? Therefore art can be used to make this issue more accessible to understand.

What is Multimedia?

Multimedia is the way in which activists use more than one medium of expression or communication. For example, dance, music, art, spoken word etc.

Examples of multimedia climate activists

Singers who are raising awareness of the issue through music include Childish Gambino, with his song ‘Feels Like Summer’, Paul Mcartney with ‘Despite Repeated Warnings’ and Noname with ‘Rainforest’.

Artists who are also inspired by the climate movement include Olafur Eliasson, who for about twenty years, has exhibited his art with a focus on the issue of climate change.

Ice Watch: the effects of global warming in Olafur Eliasson's installation  | Collater.al
  • Above: example of sculptures by Olafur Eliasson

Dance  also has the potential to convey some of the emotional attributes of climate change, impacting the dancer's awareness of issues and influencing audiences who watch that dance performance. Examples of this include works by Davalois Fearon, Jody Sperling, Rulan Tangen and Lynn Neuman.

Lynn Neuman collects discarded plastic and incorporates it into her pieces.

Teach The Future is also starting to explore how creativity can be used to express issues on climate change, with the first edition of our brand new zine, ‘Climate Horizon’ coming out soon… so watch this space!