RDA Part 3: Designed Activism

Project Proposal

My project is focusing on the damage oil mining is having on our environment. A method previously described as the “future of oil mining” is having a toxic effects on our drinking and groundwater. The modern version of fracking has allowed oil companies to unlock oil and gas reserves across more than 20 US states. This has resulted in lower gas prices which people have taken advantage of greatly. While this seems like a good solution to boost the Americna economy it is highly dangerous to our climate. Fracking also has serious effects on air quality as these harmful chemicals enter our water system. There have already been many instances where residents in fracked communities complained about their water being polluted with these toxic chemicals. 

Fracking has also had economic repercussions as it has lowered the costs of oil and is expected to cover 80% of the global demand for oil in the next three years. With our current political climate the oil business in America is no where near an end as Trump has sought to portray himself as a “savior of the US oil and gas industry” (Time Magazine). With Trumps attempt to “Make America Great Again” through oil and industrialization the future of our environment is grim. This rise in oil production has also caused unrest in the Middle East and Russia as there is increased completion for oil exports worldwide. 

However, there are things Americans can do to help decrease the demand for oil. Switching to electric cars, public transport, using solar energy are all options, some of which are more economically friendly. Many countries and states have banned this practice amid concerns over water supplies. (The Guardian) 

I personally have witnessed the damages of fracking while driving through West Texas, one of the main oil exporters in America. When your plane lands in Midland Texas all you see around the tarmac is old oil mining pumps. As my family and I drove for miles to a ranch the highway was surrounded by empty land covered in these pumps. There was hardly and vegetation or wildlife to speak of in these areas. However as soon as we reached the ranch’s area the land was once again full of life. This experience was valuable to be as it made me more aware of the damages oil and natural gas has on our environment, it made me question all of my actions regarding sustainability and made me think of how I can do more to help protect our planet. Seeing this shocked me as I previously so oblivious to the effects oil has on the environment as I did not directly witness it. 

This experience inspired me to create an installation piece aimed at educating society about the damages oil consumption is having on our country and what we can do to help. My plan is to place in a clear box an arrangement of wild flowers. I will than be covering these flowers in an acrylic material that will mimic the black shiny oil. The box is meant to represent an environment as well as draw more attention to my project than simply covering flowers in black would. The flowers will be a random selection to show how this effects everyone and every part of the world. The use of the flowers will also make the project more aesthetically pleasing as the elements of color will draw more attention to the piece. This box will be placed in Washington square park and around it will be pamphlets with facts about the oil industry and what we as individuals can do to help protect our environment and cut back on oil consumption. These will be small fliers one can easily fit in their pocket. These fliers will contain graphic images of the damages oil mining has on our world as well as bullet points stating facts of what has already happened due to oil mining and what is going to happen if we do not change our ways. These pamphlets will also include advice on what we as individuals can do to help. 

 I believe the visual element of my project will have a strong effect on the audience as the issue is easily recognizable. The installation will be presented this weekend in Washington Square Park. As I do not have the right documents and permission for public art I will not be able to have this project on display for an extended amount of time. However, I plan on also photographing and publishing it on multiple social media accounts inducing my personal one and one I created as a platform for Parsons students to share their ideas and projects. Both of these pages have a relatively large amount of followers therefore I will be able to reach out and educate many. 

My goal for this project is to educate my peers and other people living in New York about what is happening to America as a result of the oil industry reckless behavior. Through this project I also plan on educating myself about what I can do to cut back on my oil consumption. I believe this project will show people that even if they do not drive a car they are still contributing to the demand for oil which is wreaking havoc on global climate change and the greenhouse gas emissions. I believe that art has a powerful effect on society, even more powerful than actual scientific research. Therefore backing my project with factual evidence and making it as visually stimulating as possible will have a strong effect on the viewers. 

Vaughan, Adam. “Fracking – the Reality, the Risksand What the Future Holds.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 26 Feb. 2018, www.theguardian.com/news/2018/feb/26/fracking-the-reality-the-risks-and-what-the-future-holds.

Worland, Justin. “U.S. Fracking Is About to Transform the Global Energy Market.” Time, Time, 6 Mar. 2018, time.com/5187074/fracking-energy-oil-natural-gas/.

“California’s Fracking Gone Wrong, Part 2: The Environmental Costs.” Occupy.com, 27 June 2013, www.occupy.com/article/californias-fracking-gone-wrong-part-2-environmental-costs?qt-article_tabs=3#sthash.ZkQ2sa4V.ROdjQxvk.dpbs.

Final Outcome

I was very pleased with the outcome of my project. While photographing it in the park I was approached multiple times and asked what the piece was. I was happy to explain the concept and the purpose of the piece. I had also had my fliers and my friend helped distribute them to those curious about the work. Once I had the desired photographs I placed it underneath the monument (pictured above) this was the ideal spot as there were many people passing by and it did not get lost amongst the greenery. Although I tried to hand out fliers, it was difficult as many people simply do not want to have to cary a piece of paper around, however I did manage to hand out a few.


In class presentation:

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