The Canary Project
MISSION The Canary Project is compiling a persuasive visual record of climate change and its potential for devastation. By photographing landscapes throughout the world that are currently undergoing dramatic transformation or are vulnerable to predicted changes, we convey the urgent reality of global warming. Our team of scientists, writers and artists work to present these images in ways that speak to diverse audiences and foster positive action.
WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT Recent polls indicate that as many as 59% of Americans still believe that global warming is not “a very serious problem" and that 64% believe there is “a lot of disagreement” among scientists. Sensing this confusion and subsequent lack of urgency from their constituents, our policy makers have done little about the problem. This is in stark contrast to the actual voice of the scientific community, which is unified in its call.
Many people need to see something to believe it. The Canary Project makes immediate, accessible and memorable what often seems like a slow, remote and abstract phenomenon. Our choice of subject matter is well researched and intended to address a range of proven environmental phenomena, but perhaps more importantly, the images are also crafted to resonate on an emotional level. We want each individual photograph to address something fundamental that possibly lies beneath our apathy: a sense of remove from the forces of nature.
OUR APPROACH In 2006 and 2007 we will be photographing 16 landscapes around the world, selected after consulting with leading scientists and journalists. Susannah Sayler, The Canary Project's cofounder and photographer, is creating this body of work. Sayler’s approach draws on a long tradition of North American landscape photography, including frontiersmen like Tim O’Sullivan and more recent artists like Richard Misrach and Robert Adams, who have made the human impact on landscape a central theme in their work.
Sayler’s images, together with established scientific research on each of the 16 locations, will show that global warming is: (1) affecting the world in a variety of ways (melting, sea-level rise, drought, extreme weather events, etc.); (2) affecting every place on earth.
REACHING A DIVERSE AUDIENCE Our effectiveness depends in part on our ability to reach many different kinds of people. To this end, we are distributing our images through diverse venues and media, including public parks and spaces, science and art museums, public schools, religious and community groups, printed publications, public service advertisements, blogs and our own evolving website. To maximize our impact we are soliciting viewer responses to our images. This approach is rooted in optimism. We believe that positive change is effected through public education and through the individual choices that enable collective action.
OVERVIEW OF CURRENT AND UPCOMING OUTREACH In collaboration with the Denver Contemporary Art Museum we currently have Canary images on the sides of 45 Denver city buses with a simple message about global warming. Mayor Bloomberg has gotten behind the project to do a public art campaign in New York City and work the project into the city’s curriculum.
We have exhibitions coming up in short order in a gallery in Philadelphia, at the Everson Museum of Art Museum in Syracuse and Whitman College in Washington. We will open a show at the Museum of Science and Industry in November 2007.
Since our most recent update (July), our website (http://www.canary-project.org) has received more than 30,000 unique visitor form 140 countries around the world.