Consuming Photographs

This week I’ve been reminded on thoughts around transparency and building action, the need for more explicit storytelling, connecting and consideration of design consequences. This has been instigated by both managing to visit the Scarcity Waste Exhibition at Somerset house ( well covered in this People Tree blog ) and the photo compilation in the Guardian on over population and consumption. Please take time to look through them (warning fairly depressing viewing of the state we make of the world we live in).

These images are scary, disturbing, powerful and cry out for action….. and yet many are not new and their causes continue- what is missing to stir further, deeper and more profound action from all that view them?

“Our demands on nature are increasing: we are eating into our natural capital, making it more difficult to sustain the needs of the future. We have become the dominant force that is both shaping and altering the planet as a whole. Our impact is no longer local; it’s global. The effect of a growing human population will multiply the pressure we place on natural resources.” – Scarcity Waste Photo exhibit

Is it the missing links in between, further time to share, illustrate or document the complete and real stories and truth behind each of these….that if we were to map them and research in detail, expose the complete trail,  we would all be confronted with the  uncomfortable truth that most likely all of us, even the most die-hard environmentalists, are linked to one or more of these horrors in some way.

Whether contributing to toxic dye leakage in rivers from our clothes, inadvertently purchasing a face wash with micro beads ending up in the sea or buying a smartphone with conflict materials…… we need to open up these systems and the stories behind products in our shops, houses, in our hands and on and in our bodies.

These photographs often illustrate the outcome or the result, but we also need to fill in the gaps in between more, or contrast them with the product or situation that have caused them, so often hiding the behind the scenes secrets and consequences.

As our supply chains have gone more global our understanding of them and our personal connections have reduced. However, as technology now enables greater and global connections is this an opportunity that has not yet been fully utilised yet to close these gaps and re-establish these more personal links and begin to once again foster a more open culture and understanding?

Through enabling greater exposure to the realities of the explicit connections found from these directly to our lives and the ones around us, this may just force us to rethink, demand and change.

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