Marina Zurkow is a digital media artist who primarily focuses on exploring the issues surrounding environmental changes and natures interactions with society.
One of her more recent pieces that focuses on this narrative is her project Climoji. Climoji is a series of downloadable emoji’s that relate to climate change. Some of these emojis include a car burning gas, a skinny polar bear and a dead fish with a water bottle inside of it. These emojis are meant to bring the issue of climate change into the conversation of today's society. In the modern world, emojis are almost more common in daily conversation than actual words. By creating emojis centered around climate change Zurkow can begin to start a discussion with more relevance to today.
This statement reflects Zurkow's purpose behind creating this collection of emojis. Like the quote states, why don't our primary form of communications take on this issue?
A common theme found among the collection of emojis is the similarity to real emojis. Many of the emojis that Zurkow uses in her collection bare remarkably similar resemblance to the common emojis most people have on their phone. The only difference is Zurkow has added a change to the emojis that makes a profound impact and highlights her message of climate change and pollution. One example of this is the whale emoji, which at first glance looks like the common whale emoji most people have on their phone but then at a closer look, you can see the whale is choking on a plastic water bottle. Another emoji looks like the standard girl emoji that many people would be familiar with, but instead in one emoji, she is drowning in a wave.
Zurkow made a remark regarding the purpose behind the emoji stating,
Her focus in this project was to make it clear how grim these realities are through a medium that is typically seen as joyful and innocent.
Zurkow's primary motivation behind this project is to insert the awfulness of this issue into a format that is more relatable to today's society and a format that usually highlights the joyful parts of life. Portraying such horrible images as emojis create an effect that causes audiences to notice these terrible things.
One comparative art piece that goes after a similar message as Kurkow’s is Allison Maria Rodriguez with her installation of Wish you were here: Greetings from Galapagos. This piece is a striking film and digital animation that submerges the audience in the beautiful landscape of the Galapagos Islands. Rodriguez's primary focus is on preserving endangered species and the world around us. She does so in this piece by putting people in this beautiful terrain. She also demonstrates the dangers of what is happening in our ecosystem by illustrating extinct animals emerging on the screens and endangered animals disappearing into the backdrop. Rodriguez takes a similar approach to Kurkow in creating awareness around the issues affecting our environment by bringing the issues straight to the consumer.
A similar take on bringing issues of our environment and the natural wonders of our world was brought to light in Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark’s Flower video game. In this video game, the user can control the wind and fly around picking up flowers as they go. As they pick up more and more flower petals, a parade of petals begins to form in the air. The user is also flying over fields of flowers and can regrow dead parts of the fields by hovering over them. This piece takes a unique medium in a video game and uses it to show the average consumer the beauty that this planet has to offer. Just like Climoji this piece uses that medium common among today's younger generation, like text, and uses it to promote a more significant cause.
Krakow's primary objective with her piece Climoji is to bring awareness to climate change to the average consumer while making her point clear. She does this by creating her piece on phones, the place where many people spend their time looking instead of outdoors. By creating these emoji's, she can fulfill her objective of making the issue of climate change a more mainstream topic.
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