The Viridian Design Movement

Viridian Note 00429: Visionary Contest

Key concepts:
design, visionaries, T-shirts, Viridian contests
Attention Conservation Notice:
There's been very little Viridian traffic lately. That will change soon. This is an excellent opportunity to resign from the list if email has you overwhelmed. Also, there is a new Viridian Design Contest afoot with a particularly attractive prize.

As attentive Viridian readers know, I am currently a design teacher in Pasadena, California. My official title at Art Center College of Design is "Visionary in Residence."


Art Center has never had anyone "in residence," much less a "visionary." That means it's up to me to set the tone for all future visionaries who may grace the confines of this patch of academe.

Clearly, Job One (now that I've met my colleagues and students) is the creation of an official Art Center VISIONARY IN RESIDENCE T-shirt.

Some day all this will be behind me (we futurists do like to think that way), and then I will need to boast: "Been there, done that – got the T-shirt." But where in fact do I get this garment? From YOU!

Here is an unaltered Art Center souvenir T-shirt, sold from the local, on-campus arts supply store:

We Viridians clearly need to jazz this up considerably. Mind you, this is a multi-purpose design. Henceforth, everybody on Viridian List needs to consider themselves a "Visionary in Residence," wherever you may be.

Why? Well, fellow Visionaries, I want you to have a long, crystal ball-busting look at the New Official Greenhouse Global Future here, this G-8 mandated, scientist-vetted, Tony-Blair approved Spectre of Planetary Doom:

"Global warming: scientists reveal timetable By Michael McCarthy, Environment Correspondent

"03 February 2005

"A detailed timetable of the destruction and distress that global warming is likely to cause the world was unveiled yesterday.

"It pulls together for the first time the projected impacts on ecosystems and wildlife, food production, water resources and economies across the earth, for given rises in global temperature expected during the next hundred years.

"The resultant picture gives the most wide-ranging impression yet of the bewildering array of destructive effects that climate change is expected to exert on different regions, from the mountains of Europe and the rainforests of the Amazon to the coral reefs of the tropics.

"Produced through a synthesis of a wide range of recent academic studies, it was presented as a paper yesterday to the international conference on climate change being held at the UK Met Office headquarters in Exeter by the author Bill Hare, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany's leading global warming research institute.


The Euro Great and The Good cluster in growing dread:

"The conference has been called personally by Tony Blair as part of Britain's attempts to move the climate change issue up the agenda during the current UK presidency of the G8 group of rich nations, and the European Union. It has already heard disturbing warnings from the latest climate research, including the revelation on Tuesday from the British Antarctic Survey that the massive West Antarctic ice sheet might be disintegrating – an event which, if it happened completely, would raise sea levels around the world by 16ft (4.9 metres).

So long, Florida:

"Dr Hare's timetable shows the impacts of climate change multiplying rapidly as average global temperature goes up, towards 1C above levels before the industrial revolution, then to 2C, and then 3C.

"As present world temperatures are already 0.7C above the pre-industrial level, the process is well under way.

"In the near future – the next 25 years – as the temperature climbs to the 1C mark, some specialised ecosystems will start to feel stress, such as the tropical highland forests of Queensland, which contain a large number of Australia's endemic plant species, and the succulent karoo plant region of South Africa. In some developing countries, food production will start to decline, water shortage problems will worsen and there will be net losses in GDP. (((May I translate that into actual speech? "Starvation, grinding poverty and large, deserted cities.")))
"It is when the temperature moves up to 2C above the pre-industrial level, expected in the middle of this century – within the lifetime of many people alive today – that serious effects start to come thick and fast, studies suggest.

"Substantial losses of Arctic sea ice will threaten species such as polar bears and walruses, while in tropical regions 'bleaching' of coral reefs will become more frequent – when the animals that live in the coral are forced out by high temperatures and the reef may die. Mediterranean regions will be hit by more forest fires and insect pests, while in regions of the US such as the Rockies, rivers may become too warm for trout and salmon.

"In South Africa, the Fynbos, the world's most remarkable floral kingdom which has more than 8,000 endemic wild flowers, will start to lose its species, as will alpine areas from Europe to Australia; the broad-leaved forests of China will start to die. The numbers at risk from hunger will increase and another billion and a half people will face water shortages, and GDP losses in some developing countries will become significant.

"But when the temperature moves up to the 3C level, expected in the early part of the second half of the century, these effects will become critical. There is likely to be irreversible damage to the Amazon rainforest, leading to its collapse, and the complete destruction of coral reefs is likely to be widespread.

"The alpine flora of Europe, Australia and New Zealand will probably disappear completely, with increasing numbers of extinctions of other plant species. There will be severe losses of China's broadleaved forests, and in South Africa the flora of the Succulent Karoo will be destroyed, and the flora of the Fynbos will be hugely damaged.

"There will be a rapid increase in populations exposed to hunger, with up to 5.5 billion people living in regions with large losses in crop production, while another 3 billion people will have increased risk of water shortages.

"Above the 3C raised level, which may be after 2070, the effects will be catastrophic: the Arctic sea ice will disappear, and species such as polar bears and walruses may disappear with it, while the main prey species of Arctic carnivores, such as wolves, Arctic foxes and the collared lemming, will have gone from 80 per cent of their range, critically endangering predators.

"In human terms there is likely to be catastrophe too, with water stress becoming even worse, and whole regions becoming unsuitable for producing food, while there will be substantial impacts on global GDP."

This is a rather antiseptic, policy wonk's description of complete Jared Diamond-style mayhem, the portrait of a 21st century planet bleeding to death from self-slit wrists.

But that is NOT the dark, compelling, necrotic Vision that I want you to address in this T-shirt contest. No, I need a T-shirt entirely suitable for someone who can grasp that crisis, that Dirty Little Sister of Nuclear Armageddon, in its full, factual enormity, and enVisionarize a future world in which that fate is averted, transcended, beaten back and comprehensively repelled, a world in which the Smoke Ghost has been jammed back into its fossilized crypt, and the menace of the Greenhouse is as much a period artifact as the menace of the Arms Race.

Envisioning mayhem is not much of a challenge for us pros. Though some fools and naifs may remain ignorant of the causes of their growing distress, everybody will have to deal with that dark vision becoming reality, because we'll be left with no choice. Envisioning a way up and out of that, now that's the true challenge to the contemporary imagination.

I need that shirt, ladies and gentlemen.

Your reward? YOUR OWN NAME, deftly and cybernetically CRYSTALIZED into a fantastic, laser-etched, cosmically visionary miniature monument!!


Yes, your Visionary Contest prize is a vast, 100-megaparsec, ultragalactic Sloan Survey chunk of the Known Universe, laser-etched into a small, handy paperweight block that you can show off to your friends! Plus, YOUR OWN NAME will be computer- blasted into its very fabric by no less a digital artiste than California's own Bathsheba Grossman!


This jewel of the visionary arts will be shipped to you free of charge at any mailing address on the planet.

Your final entry date: March 2, 2005!

Send the graphic image of your T-shirt scheme to:

I will collect and post them where all Viridians can see them.

Good luck!

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

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