Adam is an Australian artist-filmmaker whose works have been shown everywhere from the Sydney Film Festival to the Deutsches Museum in Munich; from ABC TV to Al Jazeera International and the United Nations in New York.

He currently completing his PhD at the University of New South Wales Faculty of Art & Design.
His research explores the visual representation of climate change.

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CONTENTS

AnthropoScene I : Breakdown     (2018)   Video, 4’00”  A stunning procession of dying icebergs is reimagined as a traffic pile-up of cinematic proportions.

AnthropoScene I : Breakdown (2018)

Video, 4’00”
A stunning procession of dying icebergs is reimagined as a traffic pile-up of cinematic proportions.

AnthropoScene II: Tideline     (2017)   Video, 2’30” The high tide mark on a black sand beach in Iceland draws ever higher.

AnthropoScene II: Tideline (2017)

Video, 2’30”
The high tide mark on a black sand beach in Iceland draws ever higher.

AnthopoScene III:  Hellishei∂i; or, the Post-Modern Prometheus       (2018)   Video triptych, 3’00” An geoengineering experiment atop an Icelandic volcano promises to transmute CO₂ into stone.

AnthopoScene III:
Hellishei∂i; or, the Post-Modern Prometheus
(2018)

Video triptych, 3’00”
An geoengineering experiment atop an Icelandic volcano promises to transmute CO₂ into stone.

AnthropoScene IV: ΔAsea-ice     (2019)   Video diptych or triptych, 8’05” How can we know when we’re seeing the "fingerprints" of global warming?

AnthropoScene IV: ΔAsea-ice (2019)

Video diptych or triptych, 8’05”
How can we know when we’re seeing the "fingerprints" of global warming?

Miscellaneous Stills    A collection of stills from Adam’s research over the years.

Miscellaneous Stills

A collection of stills from Adam’s research over the years.

Feeling the Heat     (2018)   Thermographic video triptych, 15’00” Climate scientists discuss how they respond to their research — as citizens of the planet.

Feeling the Heat (2018)

Thermographic video triptych, 15’00”
Climate scientists discuss how they respond to their research — as citizens of the planet.

Rorschach Icebergs & Islands series     Drawing on the famous psychological “ink-blot test”, what might our responses to these inexorably disappearing forms tell us?

Rorschach Icebergs & Islands series

Drawing on the famous psychological “ink-blot test”, what might our responses to these inexorably disappearing forms tell us?


Feeling the Heat (2019) EMBARGOED — PLEASE DO NOT SHARE
Thermographic video triptych for exhibition spaces.
3 HD screens, 3x Lūpa video players, stereo audio, dimensions variable (previewed here as split-screen).

Duration: 15’00"
Made by Adam Sébire (PhD student, UNSW Faculty of Art & Design)

How do climate scientists, working on the front line of a problem that's invisible to most of us, respond to it as human beings, as citizens of the planet?

Feeling the Heat is presented as a visually spectacular triptych with thermographic imagery of natural and built environments and, in between, the scientists, interviewed with their own thermal imaging equipment. They’re literally feeling the heat of the moment.

The work explores a new approach to climate change communication, freeing normally objective professionals to talk to us through a subjective, passionate lens. How do the disturbing implications of climate change affect the scientists tasked with studying it on a personal level? Despite the existential dimensions of their research they’re usually expected to eschew their emotions, adhering to detached, dispassionate modes of the scientific method lest it taint their empirical assemblage of evidence. But even when they do so, they may find themselves targets of those who would rather not hear their rational conclusions.

The artwork forms part of Adam Sébire's PhD research into aesthetic visual representations of climate change. He collaborates with climate scientists to use a thermographic imager normally employed to measure leaf temperatures during heatwaves. The infrared thermal interviews ‘cloak’ the scientists visually as heat data, allowing them to speak candidly and personally, minimising potential repercussions whilst heightening aesthetic engagement for a wider audience.

There is increasing literature documenting their despondency ('climate-related depression’). Clive Hamilton describes them as “modern-day Cassandras” whose warnings go unheeded. Their research often requires them to “think the unthinkable” as they venture to the far end of probability curves. Their recommendations follow the Precautionary Principle — hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. Yet the science of climate change is all too frequently eclipsed by its politics and the temptation of some is to shoot the messenger. Any expression of an emotional response to a problem which threatens to make the planet unliveable for many of its species therefore remains taboo, and climate science communication is largely confined to probabilities, tables, graphs and data.

Scientists often assume that given enough of the right information people will modify their behaviour accordingly. However climate change is proving that a response takes more than knowledge of the scientific consensus. Climate change psychology research suggests an emotional connection is necessary. For a problem with such major implications, a dispassionate presentation of the evidence may not help its societal acceptance. This work offers viewers a different point of entry.


Below: various thermographic research stills.

Anthropocene+Epoch.jpg
IR000710.jpg
 
Thermal expansion of the seas and oceans IR001470-1505.jpg
 
IR001354.jpg
IR00662-665.jpg

AnthropoScene II: Tideline   (11.2017)

The high water mark on an island's black-sand beach draws ever higher.

Dur: 2'30" HD single-channel, stereo audio.

Composer Martin Franke & filmmaker/video artist Adam Sébire created this work, filmed with an aerial camera off remote eastern Iceland. Reverse motion creates an eerie prescience of anthropogenic sea level rise. Made during a residency at SÍM Reykjavík, November-December 2017.

Video © 2017 Adam Sébire (AU) www.adamsebire.info Music © 2017 Martin Franke (DE/NL) www.hethoutenhuis.org


AnthropoScene I : Breakdown (2018)

The traffic just seems to be getting worse by the day at Iceland's iceberg lagoon, Jökulsárlón...

Dur: 4'08" / Rec.709 Cinema 4K video with stereo audio.

Australian video artist Adam Sébire brings wry black humour to global warming’s visible effects at one of the fastest-retreating glaciers, Breiðamerkurjökull, in Iceland's Vatnajökull National Park: its procession of beautiful ice forms is here reimagined as a traffic jam of cinematic proportions.

Made during a residency at SÍM Reykjavík. www.adamsebire.info/anthroposcenes


AnthopoScene III: Hellishei∂i; or, the Post-Modern Prometheus.

4K video triptych, 2018. 3 screens (or 2 plus actual core sample in lit vitrine). 2.1 stereo audio. Duration: 3 mins. Above: Split-screen preview.

INTRODUCTION:

The Climeworks / CarbFix2 project at Hellisheiði, Iceland is the world’s first industrial-scale "carbon scrubbing" experiment that captures carbon dioxide (CO₂ ) directly from Earth's atmosphere. This CO₂ is mixed with water and pumped through domed injection wells into the volcanic basalt below, where it soon mineralises, petrified as rock.

Most climate change policy tacitly assumes the success of such geoengineering experiments — despite the unknown long-term consequences of "hacking" the planet.

Installation view, Deutsches Museum, Munich, October 2018, as part of the exhibition (Um)weltschmerz: An Exercise in Humility and Melancholia.

ARTIST STATEMENT:

At COP21 in Paris, December 2015, the world’s leaders stated their “aspiration" to limit global warming to an upper limit of 1.5ºC this century. On the planet's present greenhouse gas emissions trajectory there is no way to achieve this without what is sometimes termed climate engineering: using technology — most of it unproven and with unknown potential side-effects — to “engineer" our climate.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is arguably the most benign of these technologies. But despite being both difficult and expensive it has proven politically attractive as a “technofix”, delaying decarbonisation. Indeed all forms of climate engineering potentially come with what ethical philosophers such as Clive Hamilton identify as “moral hazards”.

Hellisheiði in Iceland is the other-worldly site of the CarbFix2 & Climeworks projects. Since October 2017 this test site has been capturing carbon dioxide directly from the surrounding air. It mixes the captured CO₂ with water, injecting it via domed wells into the basalt rock formations surrounding Hengill, an active volcano, where it mineralises: anthropogenic carbon dioxide sequestered as rock.

Australian video artist Adam Sébire is drawn to this site for its modern-day alchemy and for its Promethean overtones: an unshakeable faith in the technological mastery of Homo sapiens.

In the video triptych, one of the three screens investigates the experiments at Hellishei∂i (the injection wells of CarbFix and Climeworks’ white cube “carbon scrubber” module). In another, a core sample of the sequestered CO₂ — now mineralised as calcite within the basalt host rock — appears as a quasi-mystical object. The third screen is more ambiguous: also set in Iceland, but in a future geological era where complex lifeforms have disappeared and where the planet appears to be correcting an atmospheric imbalance. Now, geological processes reverse. After only a few hundred thousand years, equilibrium — homeostasis — will have returned.



AnthropoScene IV: ΔAsea-ice (2019)

Multi-screen video art work for exhibition spaces, duration: 8’05"
• Video diptych (2ch) version: 2x 4K screens, 2x media players, stereo audio. Split-screen preview above.
• Video triptych (3ch) version: 1x 4K screen; 2x HD screens, 3x Lūpa media players, stereo audio. Split-screen preview below.

How do we know if we’re seeing the "fingerprints" of anthropogenic global warming on an event?

Climate change event attribution is a relatively new field of enquiry. Using the formula from scientists Dirk Notz & Julienne Stroeve (published in Science*) the artist was able to calculate and saw off the exact amount of Greenlandic sea-ice that would be destroyed by his carbon emissions (5.23 tonnes of CO₂e) flying economy return from Sydney to document it. The work thus touches on the cognitive dissonances that underly our climate change psychology.

The full equation is ΔAseaice = dFnonSW,in / dECO₂ x ΔECO₂

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 6.24.19 pm.jpg

(This states that the area of sea-ice lost equals a constant — derived from research into surface energy flux at the ice edge — of 3.0 ± 0.3 square metres per metric tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, multiplied by the sum of emissions, some of which may remain in the atmosphere for over 1,000 years).

Inserting the artist’s own 5.23 tonnes of CO₂ emitted into the equation, this worked out at 15.69 ± 1.57 m² of sea-ice that would not regenerate naturally in northwest Greenland come winter.

With less sea-ice to reflect sunlight back into space the oceans warm faster, which in turn melts more ice.
This creates what climate scientists refer to (somewhat confusingly) as a 'positive feedback loop'. 

The soundtrack comprises æolian sounds from an empty water tank at the artist's house in Upernavik that 'sang' when it was windy.

* Notz, D., & Stroeve, J. (2016): Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows anthropogenic CO2 emission. Science, 354, 747–750.

Filming location: 72° 55' 53.84” N 56° 3' 34.19" W


 

raise | retreat | rise (2013)

(excerpt only) 3 HD videos, each 8hrs05mins at 24fps.

We are presented with three porthole-like apertures which take their cue from various spheres of the Earth sciences: in this case, the atmosphere, cryosphere, and hydrosphere. Through them the viewer encounters three shots of extraordinary duration. Each shot, recorded at 60 frames per second and played back at 24, runs simultaneously and continuously for eight hours and five minutes. They are recorded using digital technology unencumbered by the need to swap film-rolls or videotapes.

The duration references another work which plays with the idea of imperceptibility: Andy Warhol's 1964 film Empire also runs for 8hr05min. A single shot (but for film-roll changes) of New York's Empire State Building as it disappears into the night, Empire was filmed at 24 frames per second but is slowed to 16 during projection to further the imperceptibility of the on-screen changes.

In raise | retreat | rise each shot appears essentially unchanging but for waves, passing clouds and periodic lens-cleaning by the artist. Yet in the time taken to view the work once from beginning to end, peer-reviewed science tells us anthropogenic atmospheric CO₂ levels will be raised by approximately 14 million metric tonnes; Switzerland's mountain glaciers will retreat an average of 20mm; and the world's oceans will rise by at least 0.003mm. These changes — though disturbingly rapid in geoscience terms — lie beyond the perceptual limits of both the medium, and our senses.


RORSCHACH ISLANDS & ICEBERGS

Drawing on the famous psychological “ink-blot test”, how do we respond to these inexorably disappearing forms?

Rorschach 3.jpg

MISCELLANEOUS

Stills from various Anthropocene-related projects 2003-2018 including the photographic series Below the Line (2016) documenting the submergence of Venice beneath rising water levels and the Roads to Nowhere (2013) study of empty multi-lane highways ringing Dubai after the Global Financial Crisis.

In the Eye of the Anthropocene
The remains of the aerial cable-way for coal mine nº2B, "Santa Claus Mine", surrounded by oxidised mineral spoil on a mountain in Nybyen, Svalbard, some 1200km from the North Pole. ©18 September 2017 Adam Sébire. 78.205280ºN, 15.611418ºE


Adam Sébire Artist CV-Résumé:  PDF Format  (6MB)

Adam Sébire Artist CV-Résumé: PDF Format (6MB)


This page is hidden from searches — please do not link to it • all works © Adam Sébire • adamsebire@gmail.com • last updated March 2019