HAVE humans bumped off nature to become one of the Earth’s great evolutionary forces?
That’s the question driving an exhibition of aerial photographs depicting WA landscapes, which has just opened in the stairway gallery of the National Hotel on High Street.
NowHere: the Decisive Moment is a collaboration between Murdoch uni arts PhD candidate Gwenaël Velge and multi-disciplinary scientist Neville Ellis, who was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which last year reported on the risk of the planet warming by more than 1.5C and the resulting environmental catastrophes.
“What the exhibition tries to do is to explain in a bit more digestible way, the extraordinary moment that we are in where humans have knocked the planet off its normal evolutionary trajectory,” says Dr Ellis, a research fellow at UWA.
He says this has led to a great new epoch, known as the Anthropocene.
“We used aerial photographs of the WA Landscape to explore that theme, and we did that because it is one of the oldest landscapes on Earth, so you can show that change,” Dr Ellis said.
The images were taken by Velge, who’s been flying ultralight aircraft since he was a child, and include a variety of WA landscapes; some of which can be quite surprising.
“Some look natural, but are completely artificial,” says Dr Ellis.
One of the images gives the impression of colourful clouds, but are in fact the toxic tailings dams of Alcoa’s Hope Valley complex.
“We are both proud residents of the larger Fremantle area and see this project as a different way of ‘doing’ science communication, as well as a means by which to deliberate on alternative and desirable resilient community futures,” Dr Ellis said.
The exhibition was opened by former premier and Conservation Council of WA president Carmen Lawrence last Wednesday and will feature a three-part public lecture and discussion series.
The first lecture will be on March 6 at 7pm, featuring guest speakers Prof Peter Newman and Dr Ellis. The other speakers have yet to be announced.
by STEVE GRANT