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Global Image Warming: Climate Visualization from a Visual Studies Perspective

February 17, 2015, 12:00 PM

Rising red curves, glowing red globes and red bars belong to the well-established graphic repertoire of climate research. Climate pictures today should be called political images.  They not only have become an important vehicle to transport  findings of climate research to policy makers, stakeholders and the public; often they are used as instruments in the fight for convictions, decisions and actions. When popularized, the images can trigger strong repercussions of urgency, fear and concern. The symbolic complexity of the color red in particular serves as color for temperature, highlight, devastation and alarm at the same time. Therefore mythical narrations of the end of times return with new clothes: in the scientific dry and sober language of “future scenarios” and “pathways”. In her talk Dr Schneider will discuss widespread icons of climate change from a visual studies perspective. She will compare the scientific pictures to contemporary works of art that explicitly make use of scientific graphs and climate data to critically question concepts of knowledge production, perception and imagination in art and science.

Since 1998   Dr. Birgit Schneider of the University of Pottsdam has studied philosophy, art history and media studies, worked as a graphic designer and as a research associate in the project Das Technische Bild (The Technical Image) at Humboldt University. She also worked as a content developer for an exhibition on  sustainability and climate change, was a visiting fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, a visiting professor at the Bauhaus-Universität, and a Senior Fellow of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation at the Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam, where she wrote a visual history of climate since 1800.

Her recent publications in English are the co-edited volumes: Image Politics of Climate Change. Visualizations, Imaginations, Documentations, 2014 and The Technical Image—A History of Styles in Scientific Imagery, University of Chicago Press, 2015.

The program includes an optional lunch for $10 catered by Fresh Eats. Please pay at the door. Lunch includes soup, sandwich, dessert, coffee and tea.

Please register for this program no later than Sunday February 15, and indicate your lunch choice:   Turkey Provolone Wrap, Tarragon Chicken Salad Wrap, Roasted Eggplant/Arugula Wrap.

This program is organized by the Mid-Maine Global Forum.


February 17, 2015
12:00 PM


Bonnie Sammons
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Waterville Public Library
73 Elm Street
Waterville, ME
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