Visualizing Sustainability

 "Real engagement often starts with an interesting and fantastic experience in nature or through art."

 — Tone Bjordam, Norwegian Visual Artist

Art and science are traditionally separate disciplines, with the former focused on expression and creativity and the latter centered on the pursuit of data and discovery. However, given the unprecedented nature and scale of issues our world is facing, many people are realizing that bridging the two disciplines may ultimately tell a more compelling story. Tone Bjordam was brought to tears during a 2013 workshop in Uraguay led by Swedish scientist, Carl Folke. Using a diagram with three concentric circles each representing nature, society, and the economy, he discussed their interconnections. If the economy collapsed, for example, then nature and society would survive. If society collapsed, nature would still prevail. However, if nature collapsed, society and the economy would fall into chaos. So moved by the presentation, the Norwegian visual artist created a biosphere sculpture installation that was suspended from the ceiling at the Resilience 2017 conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

Norweigan artist, Tone Bjordam, created a stunning sculpture that visually manifests the beauty and fragility of the nature/society/economy relationship.
Tone Bjordam’s 2016 sculpture installation entitled “Nature/Society/Economy”.
Photo: Tone Bjordam via http://www.tonebjordam.com/

Entitled Nature/Society/Economy, Bjrodam’s sculpture is made up of three components according to Megan Rowling in this Rethink article. The upper hanging circle is covered with moss, dirt, and other vegetation. Attached with wires, a smaller disk hangs below and depicts rivers, fields, and city lights. Suspended at the bottom is a coin-covered globe that looks strikingly similar to a disco-ball. Echoing Folke’s discussion during the Uraguay workshop, the sculpture visually illuminates how nature supports both society and the economy. If the wires from the top were ultimately cut, all three elements would collapse. Through a physical manifestation of the nature/society/economy relationship, Bjrodam not only conveyed the beauty and fragility of our environment but also the scientific argument made by Folke. 

Norweigan artist, Tone Bjordam, created a stunning sculpture that visually manifests the beauty and fragility of the nature/society/economy relationship.
Tone Bjordam’s 2016 sculpture installation entitled “Nature/Society/Economy” is photographed from below at the Resilience 2017 conference in Stockholm, Sweden, August 21, 2017.
Photo: Tone Bjordam via https://rethink.earth

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