Paranoia as a System: What’s Left?

This piece was created using string, wire, plastic garden fencing, cellophane, glue, sticks, the photo editing software Pixlr, and some old photographs that contain fond memories. 

I was born on and have grown up on a planet that is slowly being killed by the financial interests of the rich. Climate change has been a major anxiety for me since the Colorado winters started to become warmer when I was just a child. This semester I took the course Political Economy of Global Climate Change, learning first hand why political gridlock makes climate policy unlikely and how powerful interests have exploited that for personal gain. This year we have seen the modern space race, not interested in the betterment of science or humanity, but in the individual, the stories they can tell, and the ways they can profit from the vast, untouched territory of space. Rooted in the conspiracy that this space race is covert testing for the efficacy of colonizing Mars and leaving Earth, and the majority of its inhabitants, for dead, this piece ended up representing for me a celebration of what they will leave behind. This piece is a response to my personal anxieties of being left, literally or metaphorically, by those who made things on our planet so bleak. It draws attention to the comforts, and memories, and qualities of life I must use as sources of contentment to to not be overtaken by the weight of being one individual facing the consequences of a global problem. 

This piece has undergone a lot of change. Originally conceptualized to be sculptural, the hanging object you see was supposed on the inside of a bigger piece. A larger globe shape, made with the same fencing material but woven with trash, was supposed to incase the colorful, smaller globe. Lights pointing inward from the space between the globes was planned to create a light show from the cellophane, making a space that viewers could put their heads in to see the inner beauty of the trash planet. It did not work out this way. My attempts to use brute force to manipulate the materials into my specific vision proved frustrating and fruitless. This is where I got the inspiration for the statement of this piece. With nothing to work with but the shabby colorful globe I had created to form a thoughtful piece, I had to utilize what was left and look at it from new perspectives to create and find meaning in something I was satisfied with creating. 

I changed gear to emphasize the colors the plant creates as it spins and reacts to light. The planet itself is not beautiful, falling apart and shoddily glued. However, the interactions between the different colored panels as it spins, the way it performs under a flashlight, the way it changes before your eyes as you change their focus, is all rather marvelous. It plays on interconnectivity and perspective. In the end, as a series of photos accompanied by the planet, the viewer’s attention is forced to appreciate this secondary beauty. Each photo was included because of its personal significance, but also the grander and more universal themes they hold. Human connectivity, family, nature, fun, creature comforts. When digitally meshed with the colors created by the planet under light, this theme of interconnectedness is solidified. The future is always uncertain. We may be abandoned by the powerful elite in a literal sense, we may be consistently let down by the structures we have in place for support, or we may experience any number of possible cataclysmic events tomorrow. Either way, the systems we exist in and our lack of power over them can feel cruel. This piece personally reminds me to return to my friends, family, society, and natural world, to reconnect with myself and the reality of my place on our trash planet. Beauty and comfort are rarely explicit, they can require a change in personal perspective to appreciate. While I am not trying to stoke climate passiveness, this issue will take the effort of quite literally everyone’s effort to fix, making this piece was an effort to reframe my unproductive, debilitating fear caused by climate change. This uncertainty and fear should make me appreciate what’s around me all the more, and encourage my efforts as a climate activist. Not efforts made because everyone is screwed, but because the good, beautiful things deserve to stay good and beautiful, and I deserve to stick around and enjoy them. Our human connection is not as stripped from us as it may appear, and our futures are not as doomed as I may believe. Even if they are, we all deserve to enjoy what’s left. 

Author: Anna Wright