Thom Yorke, frontman for Radiohead, blogged last week on the band’s website about the upcoming events for 350.org. The organization, which recently held a global work party on 10/10/10, is now hosting the first planetary art show for the climate: 350 EARTH.
The project will bring together 20 major public art pieces across the planet and document them by satellite this November 20-27 (the week before the UN Climate Meetings in Cancun). All of the art pieces will be large enough to be captured via a satellite, (traveling at 17,000 MPH ground speed), meaning that each project will only have a few seconds at most for the image to be captured. The hope is that the project send a strong message of climate justice to the international delegates heading to Cancun.
Kicking off the event yesterday in Santa Fe, NM, Girl Scouts, church groups and thousands of local citizens stood in a dry riverbed to recreate where the Santa Fe River should be flowing. As global warming leads to higher temperatures and a reduced snow pack, the river, which provides 40% of Santa Fe’s water, is drying up. Today, In Los Angeles, CA, hundreds of people will form the image of a ‘Solar Eagle taking Flight,’ combining solar photovoltaic film sheets and human bodies.
As part of the project, Yorke is working with 350.org to gather thousands of people on the coastline in Brighton, UK on November 27 to form an enormous version of the image from the cover of his album The Eraser: the picture of King Canute, a Norse ruler who futilely tried to control the ocean.
In a 2006 interview, Yorke explained the symbolism of the story:
In the paper one day, [Friends of the Earth activist] Jonathan Porrit was basically dismissing any commitment that the working government has toward addressing global warming, saying that their gestures were like King Canute trying to stop the tide. And that just went “kaching” in my head. It’s not political, but that’s what I feel is happening. We’re all King Canutes, holding our hands out, saying, “It’ll go away. I can make it stop.” No, you can’t.
Yorke is not the first artist to take an interest in 350.org. Actress Ellen Page created a video encouraging her fans to get to work on 10/10/10, and then took her own words to heart as she and Kyra Sedgwick participated in a work party event in Los Angeles.
Over this next week, the 350 Earth art show will travel around the world: in Iceland, people will form a giant polar bear on melting glaciers; in Egypt, a traditional scarab beetle in the desert; in South Africa, a sun made of solar cookers in Cape Town; and more.
“The first pictures of Earth from space helped launch the modern environmental movement,” says 350.org founder and author Bill McKibben. “We hope these art pieces can help spark a new movement to solve the climate crisis. Art is not a substitute for political action, but it can help build a public movement that can begin to apply real pressure.”
350.org will be unveiling the images throughout the week of November 20-27 on the 350 EARTH website and over social media. Hi-res satellite photos and aerial images of each art project will be available for the press and online media, as well as displayed at the UN Climate Talks in Cancun.
“Our leaders are still labouring under the assumption that they can turn the tide of mother nature,” said Yorke. “Enough of this. There is no more time.” Yesterday, Radiohead posted an ad on it’s facebook page calling for 2,000 people to come and help out with their art project, but with nearly 4,500 people already liking their post, they may be forming an even larger King Cnut than they are expecting to. Hopefully their elected officials will get their message and carry it with them to Cancun. Either way, the world is watching. To see pictures of the global art pieces as they happen, click here.