1.8

1.8 takes a critical view on the approximately 706 million gallons of waste oil that enter the ocean every year”. Katrin Spranger‘s piece powerfully uses performance with oil itself to bring home the global impact of pollution and waste on our oceans and wildlife, visually depicting how much crude oil we consume and release daily.


Juxtaposing beauty and ugliness, the physical properties of oil and the marks being left on canvas create a metaphor for humanity’s struggle and highlights the tragic awareness of our inability to control the effects of environmental destruction. Whilst some marks quite literally depict a ‘carbon’ footprint, most other marks witness traces of a fight with a slippery liquid material that could not be controlled.

Katrin Spranger is a visual artist working on the intersection of sculpture, jewellery, and performance, exploring dystopian narratives that engage with environmental issues including the depletion of natural resources.

 

Formed millions of years ago, yet only used for around 200 years, fossil fuel reserves are emptying very quickly. With current and expected future levels of usage, oil reserves are in decline and cannot meet our population’s needs in the long term.

Global consumption of crude oil, based on the 2021 world population breaks it down to 1.8 litres per capita per day with the forecast of an increase.

1.8 takes a critical view on the approximately 706 million gallons of waste oil that enter the ocean every year. With over half coming from land drainage and waste disposal; for example, from the improper disposal of used motor oil, the other remaining parts come from offshore drilling, production operations and spills or leaks from ships or tankers.

Oil spills present enormous harm to deep ocean and coastal fishing. Oil spills at sea can kill large numbers of seabirds and have the potential to wipe out entire populations where these are small or localised. Oil can stick to birds’ feathers, making them lose their water-proofing and potentially leading to hypothermia. When birds try to clean their feathers they ingest oil and are likely to become poisoned. Birds can be cleaned, but this is laborious and expensive. To rehabilitate a single bird takes up to 45 minutes.

Apart from the problems of offshore oil drilling, mining and oil spills, an additional tragedy is that, unfortunately, much of the world’s plastic has ended up in the ocean, where, dispersed by currents, it becomes virtually irretrievable, especially once it has fragmented into microplastics. Computer models suggest that seas hold as many as 51 trillion microplastic particles. Some are the product of larger pieces breaking apart; others, like microbeads added to toothpaste or face scrubs, were designed to be tiny.

To take the viewer on a rigorous journey to visually depict how much crude oil in the form of plastic products and carbon emissions we consume and release on a daily basis, the protagonist of the 1.8 performance wears a feathered jewellery piece with the exact amount of 1.8 litres of oil hidden under their wings. Their performance follows a trajectory, starting from a beautiful, immaculate state of being with slow, majestic movements, onto more struggling gestures and emotions of reluctance to accept loss, to an eventually uncontrollable mess, leading to the inevitable, horrific death. Juxtaposing beauty and ugliness, the physical properties of oil and the marks being left on canvas create a metaphor for humanity’s struggle and it highlights the tragic awareness of our inability to control the effects of environmental destruction. Whilst some marks quite literally depict a ‘carbon’ footprint, most other marks witness traces of a fight with a slippery liquid material that could not be controlled.

1.8 aims to assess and rethink our daily oil consumption in the form of trying to consume fewer plastic products and packaging materials, and ultimately reducing our environmental footprint at scale when traveling and commuting on a daily basis.

Art direction and jewellery: Katrin Spranger
Performance artist: O.K. Norris
Styling and costume: lambdog 1066
Videographer: Louis Thornton


You can explore more of Katrin’s work at her site — and look out for details of the 1.8 Recycle Workshop Series:

“Of all plastics used, worldwide just about 9 % is recycled. As a matter of fact, even when trying to cut down on packaging materials, consumers not always have a choice when shopping, as items usually come wrapped and packaged in non-recyclable materials. Whenever it is not possible to reduce consumption, we may consider re-using and transforming such materials to reduce waste.

“Following my 1.8 performance piece commenting on crude oil consumption, I am going to run a series of workshops in 2023 that inspire action and provide practical solutions to dealing with ‘waste’ products. Each participant will be asked to collect and bring 1.8 kg of plastic and crude oil waste products to the workshop where we’re going to assess and explore those materials. During the workshop we will recycle and transform the materials using various processes including heating, melting, pressing, cutting (for example heating plastic bottle caps) in order to co-create new artworks such as jewellery pieces or objects. The aim is to create work that does not resemble the materials that it was made of.”

There are a limited number of workshop places, so if you would like to take part, please email spranger.katrin@gmail.com to express your interest.

To explore some of the issues Katrin addresses in her work, see:

Mapping Vulnerability – Finding a Visual Voice

“The installations highlight our preoccupation with physical boundaries but also consider thresholds of thought and the necessity for a shared sense of purpose.”

Six artworks from multi-media artist Jacqui Jones utilise maps to provide a visual voice and fire the imagination on the fragile equilbrium of our social and ecological systems and themes of sustainability and regeneration. 

I was searching for a medium that would expand the vision of environmental, humanitarian and climate concerns at both a local and world wide level, something relatable that would show the vulnerability of the world and its inhabitants. Maps provided that visual voice, articulating not only the here and now but a wish for a longer future.

Jacqui Jones is a multi-media artist immersed in current social, political and scientific thinking, whose work encourages thought, conversation and action, focusing on the climate crisis and single-use plastics.

 

How do we open up hearts and minds to complex environmental issues? The enormity of the challenges can seem so difficult to analyse and understand. Contemporary art is one of the avenues that can fire the imagination and renew the conversation, illustrating ideas, impacts and implications.

For over 10 years I have produced artwork that prompts discussions about the world’s fragile equilibrium, broadening perspectives and horizons. Working conceptually using sustainable and repurposed materials I create works in many mediums including film, sculpture, installation and photography.

In June 2022 I exhibited a series of six works utilising maps. The artworks were the result of two years of research and experimentation not only with the materials but also working over time with the unique features of the redundant factory in which they were to be set.

I was searching for a medium that would expand the vision of environmental, humanitarian and climate concerns at both a local and worldwide level, something relatable that would show the vulnerability of the world and its inhabitants. Maps provided that visual voice, articulating not only the here and now but a wish for a longer future.

The final works expanded on themes of sustainability and regeneration. Considering subjects such as water ecology (Reconnection), urban construction (Urban Sprawl), deforestation (Forest), re-wilding (Valuing the Wild), rising sea levels (Tipping Point) and areas of conflict (War-torn).

The installations, shown below (click on each image for the full-size view), are imbued with a melancholic beauty and a compelling desolation. Each is inextricably linked with architecture and atmosphere of the building. They highlight our preoccupation with physical boundaries but also consider thresholds of thought and the necessity for a shared sense of purpose.


Jacqui’s six artworks were exhibited as part of Resonance, June 2nd – 12th 2022, at the Old Shoe Factory, St Mary’s Works, Norwich, England. You can explore more of Jacqui’s work at her website.

Skyseed – Hacking the Earth might be the last thing we ever do…

“For the first time in the history of the world, it was literally raining carbon…”

In his thriller Skyseed, writer and scientist Bill McGuire explores what might happen if we start geoengineering our climate to ‘fix’ global heating, and everything goes pear-shaped. A cautionary tale from a researcher steeped in the natural history of disasters.


Jane Haliwell put her head in her hands. To tell the truth, she was still in shock. All the samples she had taken from inside and around the lab contained the enigmatic spheres in huge numbers. She had only had a brief time to think about the implications, but she was pretty sure already what was going on.

For the first time in the history of the world, it was literally raining carbon. Long before it stopped, the guilty would pay, but so would the innocent…

Bill McGuire is a researcher in the science of global heating and climate breakdown, and a writer of non-fiction on natural hazards and climate change and of speculative and climate-related fiction, who values his contribution to climate activism above everything else.

We all know that slashing greenhouse gas emissions is the key to side-stepping catastrophic global heating. Under the radar, however, others are promoting a very different way of tackling the climate crisis. So-called geoengineering is defined by the Royal Society as: ‘the deliberate intervention in the climate system to counteract man-made global warming,’ and it is attracting increasing support and funding. If messing with the climate some more, to sort out the mess we have already made, sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Geoengineering distracts from the main business of cutting carbon emissions as the science demands, threatens further damage to the environment and tramples over human and legal rights. Far more scarily, the cure might even end up being deadlier than the illness.

Perhaps the riskiest of all geoengineering schemes is a plan to mimic a volcanic eruption by pumping tens of millions of tonnes of sulphur into the stratosphere. Sulphur gases are especially good at reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space, which is why a period of global cooling is common after a major volcanic blast. Past episodes of volcanic cooling, however, are also associated with major changes in weather patterns and rainfall, the failure of harvests and widespread famine, so copycat cooling is really not a good idea. In my new novel, Skyseed, a massive volcanic eruption in Bolivia – true to form, but in an unexpected manner – provides the catalyst that transforms an illicit bid to ‘fix’ global heating into a fight for the survival of the human race.

For someone steeped in the natural history of disasters (I did after all write A Guide to the End of the World: Everything you Never Wanted to Know), the idea of following the geoengineering route in our increasingly desperate quest to come to grips with the climate crisis, has always fascinated, which is really why I wrote Skyseed. I am very much of the mind that stories, rather than lists of hard facts, are often far better at getting complex ideas across, which explains why Skyseed is a novel, rather than a technical analysis of geoengineering and the associated risks. Set in the near future, the book is — first and foremost — a thriller, but a thriller with a message. Without giving too much away, it is a cautionary tale that flags a warning to the reader of what might happen if we embark upon further climate tinkering and everything goes pear-shaped. I have tried not to be preachy, and my principal intention has always been to pen a damn good yarn. Do please read it and let me know if I have succeeded.


Skyseed by Bill McGuire is published by The Book Guild Publishing (September 2020) and can be bought direct from them, from Hive or from your favourite independent bookshop. 

Fellow ClimateCultures member and writer Rob La Frenais discusses Skyseed and geoengineering with Bill on our blog: see Hacking the Earth.

And you can hear Bill discuss the novel and the issues around geoengineering in this short Shaping the Future podcast from the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series (10/10/20).