Messages for Earth is a project by artist Aubrey Ingmar Manson, and utilizes speculative fiction to portray an eco-socialist political narrative, addressing the urgency for immediate action to lessen the impact of climate change caused by human civilization and capitalism.
An interactive website www.messagesforearth.com, with 3D viewable sculptures made using virtual reality and sculpting software, assists in telling the story of the future terraformed metaverse.
‘Anti-Capitalism’ is part of the zeitgeist, and this can either be a good or bad thing. For one, more and more people are becoming aware, educated, and demanding change. Particularly from the larger powers who can actually change it, those being governments, large corporations and an elite wealthy class who produce the most greenhouse gases.
Yet, capitalism has a way of subsuming itself and anything that counteracts it. The act of hating capitalism can become capitalistic itself, and in an instant it can become a concept sold and marketed. It almost becomes enough to wear an article of clothing that reads ‘Tax the Rich’ or ‘Capitalism Kills’, but stops short right there as a popular slogan, without really being a driving force or battle cry for change and action.
As an artist, I am conflicted as to how I go about as an activist. I make visuals that include language (mostly with an anti-capitalist rhetoric) and when I create, I see my projects as a form of activism. At times I wonder if my form of visual activism is enough, or I fear it just being absorbed as part of this anti-capitalist zeitgeist. This project, Messages for Earth, helped me to reflect on that. Not just to create visuals to go with an eco-socialist movement, but to also contribute towards the conversation of Capitalism’s role in producing climate change and destruction to the planet.
By pondering my role, I realized I needed to make this work as relatable, accessible, and shareable as I could. It needed to break physical boundaries - it can be accessed by a website URL link, so hopefully it can spread to a larger audience than would be allowed if physically situated in a gallery space. It was important to have the visuals be viewable digitally, they are sculpted in virtual reality as 3D objects to match visuals conceived as coming from the virtual metaverse. Additionally, they contribute to a story that seems like a conceivable future, particularly with the common and contemporary human malaise of eco-anxiety, thoughts about our precarious situation and finding escapism from climate dread within scrolling social media feeds that currently act as metaverses today.
Messages for Earth is based on a fictional narrative, but the Truth is, Capitalism kills, and does so without a conscience. It is killing our planet nonsensically and exponentially. Viewing the destruction unfold in real time is beyond alarming with the planet’s health, humanity’s future, and the uncertainty of how we will do something about it, all in jeopardy. It is also about the inequality in relation to who produces the most destruction to the planet and who will bear the most effects of it. Ninety-nine corporations produce 71% of carbon emissions, with the US military producing more C02 emissions than most industrialized nations. Surely, the 1% will find a way to not have to experience most of the effects of climate change, while people at the bottom of the hierarchy will absorb most of the harm even though they truly are not to blame for the cause of climate change. This thought can be disheartening, and why it seems so important to act as swiftly as possible now against inequalities that would be heightened as a result of global warming.
Yes, it is too late to reverse damage done to the Earth’s climate, but it’s not too late to change course to prevent things from getting far worse. This project is a reflection on that, because it does ultimately provide hope that if necessary changes are made now, we can save our beloved planet and for better or worse, humanity. Because if a terraformed virtual metaverse seems like more of a probable fate for humankind - rather than global powers, corporations, and governments coming together to prevent global warming - then we really need to work together to change that fate! Don’t let this project just be absorbed by the anti-capitalist zeitgeist, instead share it with others who you think would want to see it, critique it, interact with it, and hopefully add to this critical conversation.
Aubrey Ingmar Manson is an artist/activist currently living in Chicago, IL. Recently, she was included in New American Paintings: Pacific Coast Competition, and has exhibited at Art Los Angeles Contemporary with AWHRHWAR, Frieze Art Fair with Artists for Democracy, Botschaft & L'oiseau présente...in Berlin, Germany, Galeria Garash in Mexico City, Mexico, The Shrine in New York City, NY, Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, and Five Car Garage in Santa Monica, CA.
As an activist, Aubrey has been an organizing member for groups in Los Angeles such as Artists for Democracy, af3irm, Socialist Alternative, and helped to form Socialist Students at UCLA.
She completed a BFA in Painting at Northern Illinois University in 2010 and her MFA in 2015 from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.