Pratt BFA Communications Design Thesis

Sidney Namey Illustration

Wish You Were (Still) Here

Social Change

It has been proven and accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists that the earth is warming and the climate is changing due to carbon emissions from fossil fuels. Climate Change is causing species to go extinct, displacing millions of people, and threatening life on Earth as we know it. The United States is the biggest producer of oil and the second largest emitter of carbon in the world, but it is easy for our country to turn a blind eye to this fact because we are not the ones receiving the harshest environmental effects of Climate Change. In this age of mass media, most people with access to the internet or TV or even a public education are increasingly aware of the issue, yet not enough attention or care is given to it, especially from our government and large corporations. After interviewing individual people, some of the reasons they choose to ignore or do not contribute to the climate movement are selfishness, ignorance, denial, hopelessness, lack of time, lack of resources, misinformation, etc. With my thesis, I intend to shine a light on the multifaceted conundrum of Climate Change in a way that makes it digestible to the public while still capturing the full breadth of the issue.

For my imagery, I have crafted miniature scenes out of found objects and sculptures of my own making. The mediums I chose to work in are informed by some of my earlier works and inspired by hand-made biome dioramas that students make in primary school when learning about different ecosystems. Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and old plastic toys are some of the materials I have created my pieces with. In true Medium is the Message fashion, each piece is composed using multiple products of crude oil—shopping bags, craft glue, acrylic paint, plastic toys, tape, synthetic fibers in the pipe cleaners—furthering the point that our society is so dependent on the valuable resource. To make my project somewhat sustainable, I tried to utilize materials I already had around the house and bought only second-hand toys. Once the scenes were set up, I photographed and collaged each element to perfect my vision.

By putting a gruesome twist on these wholesome and nostalgic mediums, I depict the ways Climate Change is affecting vulnerable places in the world—like climate-worsened natural disasters in the Philippines, island chains in the Maldives sinking because of sea level rise, coral bleaching due to warming oceans—and the cause of it all: crude oil production. These scenes have taken the form of postcards with a short written element on each side from the perspective of a tourist traveling to these destinations. My project takes the viewer on a trip around the world in hopes of bringing up some thought-provoking topics that will make the viewer question the systems that have caused Climate Change and the effects they have had on less industrialized nations.