Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hottest year on record: A Visual Memorial

According to the New York Times, two agencies, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have independently reached the conclusion that the global average surface temperature for 2010 tied the record for hottest year on record set in 2005.

The high temperatures were matched by a decline in Arctic sea ice. Arctic sea ice extent averaged over December 2010 was 12.00 million square kilometers (4.63 million square miles). This is the lowest December ice extent recorded in satellite observations from 1979 to 2010, 270,000 square kilometers (104,000 square miles) below the previous record low of 12.27 million square kilometers (4.74 million square miles) set in 2006 and 1.35 million square kilometers (521,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average. The extent of Arctic sea ice has declined 3.5% per decade between 1979 and 2010.

In recognition of these milestones, we are highlighting a specific work by Canadian artist Diana Thorneycroft from her series "Group of Seven Awkward Moments." Thorneycroft describes the purpose of the series as follows:
In this new series "Group of Seven Awkward Moments", I investigate the relationship between the Canadian landscape and national identity. Reproductions of paintings by the famous Canadian collective The Group of Seven are used as backdrops to the dioramas I photograph.

It is through the use of the collective's iconic northern landscapes, which have come to symbolize Canada as a nation, combined with scenes of accidents, disasters, and bad weather that gives the work its edge. By pairing the tranquility of traditional landscape painting with black humour, the work conjures up topical and universally familiar landscapes fraught with anxiety and contradictions.

The image immediately below is "Icebergs, Davis Strait (1930)" by Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris. At the bottom is Thorneycroft's riff on the image. Enough said.

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