HISTORY OF THE FUTURE
A History of the Future consists of a set of photographic images, all landscapes, showing places around the world where scientists are observing the impacts of climate change.
The project consists of images but is not the images themselves. The project is the display and distribution of those images. The images live many lives. They have been art objects. They have been pedagogical tools in science museums and classrooms. They have been billboards and bus ads. In each case, Sayler/Morris struck a bargain between illustrating the facts of climate change (which is always contingent on captioning and context) and laying bare a state of disorientation and collapse of scale that seemed the only reliable opening into the trauma of climate change.
The artists’ sense of what the images can do (and what they can’t) changed substantially in the course of the project, which, in turn, produced a transformation in their understanding of what activist art or research-based art could be.