UNEXPECTED MATERIALS:3D, DIGITAL AND INTERACTIVE ANTHROPOCENE ART
Christine Simpson by Lauren Beaudin
Defining the Anthropocene
We are in an age where humans both produce and are sustained by the physical “technosphere.” The Technosphere includes all the structures that humans have constructed to keep them alive. Humanity is dependent on these structures to survive; therefore, we continuously create new and advanced technologies and humanity progresses. This view of the Anthropocene is primarily focused on, but not limited to, the western lifestyle, where nations are developed and industrialized.
Less developed nations do not have control over the same resources in order to impact the earth to the same extent. Instead, the natural resources and labor of these countries are exploited by the wealthy and powerful, which in turn effects the well-being of the earth. Therefore, the Anthropocene is not a unified global force, but rather an individual phenomenon dependent on social context.
This human mark on the planet is so distinct that even if humans died out tomorrow, it would still be evident far into the future. Although climate change plays a significant role, it is not the defining factor in the geological epoch. A lack of biodiversity among habitats, changing soil composition, and the ideology of imperialism are also key factors within the Anthropocene.
What should anthropocentric art accomplish?
Anthropocentric art should contextualize the enormity of human impact on the earth and individualize it. Although the changes that have already been made are irreversible, the artwork causes the viewer to reevaluate his/her personal contribution and the influence his/her actions have on the rest of the world, whether directly or indirectly.
Artwork does not offer a solution, as it’s different for each individual around the world. The self-reflection allows the interpreted solutions to vary, depending on context.
How is Christine Simpson an artist of the Anthropocene?
Christine Simpson utilizes her unique artistic style to capture the essence of the Anthropocene. She uses surrealism and digital manipulation to emphasize the juxtaposition of the natural and unnatural worlds. She is a working artist in Waterford, Ireland, where she teaches in the departments of design communications and fine arts at the Waterford Institute of Technology.
Her work has been shown around the world and covers a wide variety of societal issues. A majority of her published works revolve around the topic of climate change. Although the Anthropocene is not limited to climate change, it plays a critical role in understanding human impact on the earth.
Precious Earth Series: Holding On
This piece emphasizes the idea that humans are not a sustainable species. Humanity creates a way of life that caters to its need, with utter disregard to the rest of the natural world. This is evident in the composition of the piece. The human hands centered in the piece draw attention and become the main focal point. The anonymity of the figure reflects the way that this piece does not target a specific individual, but encourages the audience to reflect as to how they contribute (whether positively or negatively) to the earth. The lighting and composition suggests that the connotation of the piece is more negative. Christine is illustrating that technosphere that humanity has created is harmful and damaging to the natural order of all other living creatures. We hold the western and industrialized standard of living over other societies and expect them to adjust, as humanity continues to control every aspect.
“…reference[s] mortality, impermanence and the widespread and consequential harm that is being done to plants, animals and human beings that are trying to adapt to new conditions.”
“[It] question[s] our lack of integration with the natural world and our lack of realization that we are dependent on our
planet to survive.”
Split Worlds: Natural (dis)Order
Similar to the previous piece, this work of art emphasizes the lack of connection between two separate worlds, the hum and the natural. Humanity impacts the world from a distance, without taking a conscious role in its destruction. While humans actively consume and waste goods, there is a degree of separation between the action and the consequences. Her imagery in this piece highlights that separation. Underwater, we see evidence of human impact. But this destruction is occurring underwater—out of sight, out of mind. We only see what’s above the surface, the flowers, the bird, the sky. The bright colors above water insinuate beauty and idealism, while the darker, more murky tones of underwater illustrate the disturbance of the “natural beauty” of the oceans.
“…the planet has become stressed by profligate human activity resulting in global imbalance and a lack of connection to the earth and it's guiding forces.”
“[on the imagery of water]…its translucency allows me to draw deeper into nature by creating some images that are split into two separate worlds.”
Biermann, Frank, Xuemei Bai, Ninad Bondre, Wendy Broadgate, Chen-Tung Arthur Chen, Opha Pauline Dube, Jan Willem Erisman, et al. “Down to Earth: Contextualizing the Anthropocene.” Global Environmental Change 39, no. Supplement C (2016): 341–50.
Bilodeau, C. (2017, July 17). Everything is (Dis)connected. Retrieved December 03, 2017, from https://artistsandclimatechange.com/2017/07/20/everything-is-disconnected/
Ms.Christine Simpson. (n.d.). Retrieved December 03, 2017, from https://www.wit.ie/about_wit/contact_us/staff_directory/christine_simpson
New Work. (n.d.). Retrieved December 03, 2017, from https://www.christinesimpsonphotoart.com/earth
Split Worlds. (n.d.). Retrieved December 03, 2017, from https://www.christinesimpsonphotoart.com/earth
Waters, Hannah. “Where in the World Is the Anthropocene?” Smithsonian, Smithsonian Institution, 30 Aug. 2016, https://www.thinglink.com/scene/824708460808503296.
Zalasiewicz, Jan, Mark Williams, Colin N Waters, Anthony D Barnosky, John Palmesino, Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, Matt Edgeworth, et al. “Scale and Diversity of the Physical Technosphere: A Geological Perspective.” The Anthropocene Review4, no. 1 (2017): 9–22.
SCALAR USC/ XAVIER UNIVERSITY.