Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Climate Change: A Different Subjectivity?
Roslyn Ellen Taplin
2nd Author
3rd Author
Doctor of Visual Arts
Number of Pages
Queensland College of Art - Griffith University
Thesis Supervisor
Professor Ross Woodrow
Supervisor e-mail
r.woodrow AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Visual Art/Environmental Art
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
climate change, environment, contemporary art, text, discourse analysis, transdisciplinary, experimental, social learning, polycentric action, Ostrom, Milbrath, Deleuze, Guattari, O'Sullivan, ethico-aesthetic, minor literature, subjectivity, drawing,
Abstract: 200-500 words
The issue of the environment first emerged  as a focus in contemporary art practice in the   1970s. However, climate change art as a new direction in environmental art has only been an area of significant focus since the early 2000s.  As a creative  intervention,  it  is  a  reaction  to  the  global  phenomenon  of the  build-up of  greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, the urgent need for greater diplomatic cooperation internationally, and sustained domestic policies and programs to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This doctoral research explores the role of visual art in producing  new strategies to mediate the urgency of the climate change issue. My studio practice involving drawing, digital imagery, video and installation has been plaited with three lines of inquiry. First, how may contemporary art address speeches and reports associated with negotiations on climate change? Second, how may people living in varying localities and communities across the globe contribute to mitigating climate change impacts via their multiple efforts? Third, is it possible that climate change art may contribute to an altered subjectivity within viewers and some realisation of future implications  of climate change and the ethics of inaction?   My approach has been transdiciplinary and experimental. My transdiciplinary inquiry has drawn on aspects of the current international climate change political and policy-making process, together with climate science and modelling developments and findings about Earth-ocean-atmosphere impacts. My experimental focus has involved analysis of the political discourse associated with climate change. Discourse analysis is therefore a lens and an experimental  approach I have employed. I look beneath the text of climate change speeches and scientific   publications to explore shared meanings, generating a critical visual analysis of the global discussion taking place. Text incorporation in my studio practice has involved use of dialogue selected mainly from United Nations climate change speeches but also from scientific papers and UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. I have highlighted discourses that are directed towards enabling climate change mitigation action – the discourses that have been often ignored and politically obstructed. My practice has developed with drawing at its core but also includes the forms of digital imagery, video and installation. With climate change as the central focus, I have intended my creative contributions as a personal, intellectual and political intercession – an ethico-aesthetic mediation in the production of subjectivity about climate change. I have considered social learning of community members and the importance of polycentric local action as Ostrom advised. Consequently I  have argued that transdisciplinary and experimental  visual arts contributions may have a role in speaking to spectators and in turn eliciting personal and potentially community responses. Using perspectives drawn from Deleuze and Guattari, as interpreted by O’Sullivan in relation to contemporary art, it can be argued that climate change art has the potential to open up new possibilities for perceiving - and to contribute to a new minor literature and a new subjectivity. Climate change art operates on the cusp of the future and its role is of key cultural and environmental significance.