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Sunny Monroe

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How can we use art to build awareness of peak oil and start the public discussion on transitioning away from fossil fuels.

Peak oil is a tough message for people to swallow. Most of the people writing on it spin a tale of food shortages, economic collapse, and oil wars that our beloved technology cannot save us from. But there are things to be hopeful and curious about in a post-oil world. I believe that lowering our reliance on oil will force us to build stronger communities, produce less non-biodegradable plastic, drive less, move around more, and reconnect with the earth. I also believe there is an audience out there that is ripe for this message, but it must be delivered in a way that inspires curiousity, empowerment, and hope. How can we use art - public art, music, online, etc - to start this public conversation?

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  • Feb 2 2012: I think there are at least two strands to this. One part is that art can be extremely effective at showing people what's wrong and needs to change in the world. I have the good fortune to be working on one of my favourite examples: Chris Jordan's Running The Numbers series:

    http://chrisjordan.com/gallery/rtn2/#insatiable
    http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_jordan_pictures_some_shocking_stats.html

    But the second part is that once we've hit people with that, we have a responsibility not to walk away, because despair can be so completely paralysing. This is where I think Jonnie's absolutely right: art can, and I think must, also show people possibilities. It can either be to show them how to fix the problems we're documenting [full disclosure: this is what I'm working on for Chris], or how to be open to palatable alternatives. I think in the peak oil space the former is about showing people how to rely on oil less, while the latter would be to show that a world in which the first mission failed would still be tolerable. On that front, the Dark Mountain Project is trying to use all media to portray a world without much of what we think of as modernity and civilisation, and show that it needn't be a dystopia:

    http://www.dark-mountain.net/

    I think these are really all different ways of art helping people see what is out there but not necessarily easy to be open to.
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      Feb 8 2012: Eldan,
      OMG, as an artist, and a steward of this planet, I am out of thumbs for your links and response!

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