Tilius Sodeika

KABK 2020

Graphic Design

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London 1944, George Rodger



What started as a small local environmental movement for addressing climate injustice grew, and in one year became a global resistance to business as usual, while our planet's decades are being counted. The people go to the streets, block roads and ask their governments toact immediately. These events sparked hopein millions but the governments just ignored them. The science is clear as day, yet the consumerism. By studying disasters I learned extreme circumstances. I synthesise my findings into a term hyperdisaster. I explore what exactly it means and how I can use it to look at the changing landscape of civilisation.

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[2]Madrid 2019, 500000 people protesting against climate injustice at the Climate Change Conference
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[3]Civilisation 6: Gathering Storm, City flooded

Virtual Disaster

Virtual Disaster

One day I was updating my computer programs and the MacOS software lagged. I restarted the computer and it would stop loading on the same bar. I knew the computer was almost out of memory space so I suspected it could be a fatal lag. Therefore, I reinstalled the whole computer software.

For the first time in 3 years I had computer full of memory space. This was something to celebrate and since I was at my cousin’s place who just bought a new computer, we wanted to play a multi-player computer game. I suggested Civilisation IV, which is a strategy game based on building and developing civilisations that correlate with the real world history. I searched on web for the newest version called Civilisation IV: Gathering Storm. After a few hours of downloading, I installed it on my computer, then on my cousins computer. We turned it on and watched the introduction of the video. It starts with a group of scientists standing on ice glacier possibly in Antarctic or Arctic, and the narrator's voice speaks Human advancement knows no boundary… Then suddenly a glacier collapses, the ice cracks beneath the scientists feet, opens and they dramatically fall inside as the voice speaks …but this has been without its price. The video is about the different aspects of civilisations and the milestones in human history. This video captured my attention because it presented climate change as a natural part of human evolution. It states that it’s no longer a debate weather human activity is causing global warming.

The game is designed around civilisations of our real world. It’s depicting the progress of human civilisations: increasing capacities, complexities and modernities. To start, you choose one of the civilisations. It includes many extinct pre-historic civilisations like Aztecs, Mapuche, Zulu, that have different characteristics than the modern ones like Polish, American, Australian. All civilisations start in pre-historic era and progress to industrialisation and modernisation. As we approached industrialisation in early 19th century, the window for global warming meter lights up. It informs that by using more oil, gas, all sorts of energies to power up your civilisation, you increase CO2 emissions. That increases the frequency of storms, tornadoes and floods, that cause civilisations to lose land on which you grow food, build cities, industries, get your precious and luxury resources.

We both noticed the global warming meter but the game is designed for you to have too many other things to worry about: spreading of religions, upgrading to better armory, building new energy productions, keeping citizens happy, by upgrading technologies, policies, which increase productivity and bring prosperity to your civilisation. As you produce more, you gain more, you buy more and faster, to compete against other civilisations by territorial expansion. There comes a time, when you realise that there’s no more free space to expand on. Then you have to fighting other players. There’s no time to worry about global warming meter. The tension increases because the other player is expanding and growing on an exponential rate. You cannot invest in culture, which generates new more advanced features for your civilisation. You are desperate to build your army, upgrade to planes, then to space rockets, satellites, new science equals new weapons. You look for the weakest player with relatively close distance from you. You start sending spies to trigger mistrust in their cities. Then you spread your religion in their territory, which could even end with a city revolting against its own master. That is when you attack and occupy it for yourself. All that time you never look at the global warming meter, because it’s long term investment, and you need to build up now. But as I was in the year 1930, the meter already reached level 5/7 and the risk of natural disaster has risen 60%. This increases the frequency of disasters on high risk windows, on the map. River floods, rising sea levels, hurricanes, dust storms, blizzards, tornadoes, and droughts damage whatever you have built on the window where they happen. Fixing those windows is expensive and slow, therefore you decide to not rebuild on that land. Instead you attack more cities around you to obtain your opponent’s resources. You build hydro, wind, solar and nuclear energy stations which don’t generate any CO2 in the game, but when it comes to the real world, they only cover 8% of the world’s energy production. The other 92% come from fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal. We are not entering some renewable energy era. Political debate is may be moving towards some regulation but the game is not going to stop. The worlds developing civilisations currently produce the most CO2 but looking at the history America and EU is responsible for half of CO2 emitted since 1850s. There’s no interest in slowing down the development because living standards are increasing. There are 195 acclaimed countries trying to compete over finite resources, increasing difficulty of getting them and ever growing complexity of political mechanisms slicing the earth. The vast scale of this world is more than enormous when proportionally weighing it against human lifetime and the capacity of impacts each individual has. As individuals, we are asked to participate in the global modern culture, and seek for pleasures, comforts, that we are so used to. Yet, imagine now populations scrolling through their phones while walking into an alley of catastrophic wipe out of humanity. The underdeveloped parts of the world are exploited and forced to contribute to the growing need of resources for technology production, food production, commodities of modern life, urban and rural infrastructure expansion. Civilisations across the world immeasurably vary in their cultures, traditions, languages, social structures. The blinding arrogance and self-interest of the elite is pushing all of civilisations towards a catastrophic social collapse.

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[4]90% of energy produced worldwide is of fossil fuels

Global warming[6] is too boundless to be completely measured, perceived as one. It's taking place in too many locations at too many points in time. It affects the whole global trading system, political discourses, social behavior and will continue to progress into a new era. Which qualities, values will survive in civilisations around the world will depend on the communities that overcome and adapt to the challenging and changing environments.

[6]"The spooky thing is, we discover global warming precisely when it’s already here. It is like realizing that for some time you had been conducting your business in the expanding sphere of a slow-motion nuclear bomb."

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[5]The temperature in the north pole was 20°C warmer than the normal average temperature on February

It’s no surprise that people across the world have concerns for their future. It’s rather shocking how little action we have seen from our governments. Their promises of keeping the average global temperature below 1.5 °C is laughable as they continue investing into fossil fuel industries. The most recent conclusions on the scientific measures reported on COP25 say we are heading to 3 °C warming. At this stage, the governments should be radically reforming policies that govern the industries that pollute, yet they failed to come to a consensus. They debated for two weeks with 500000 protesters outside in the streets of Madrid and not managing to agree on how to regulate carbon budget, postponing the debate to next meeting in 2020. The complexity of this world requires equally complex solutions[7], while scientists fear that we have ran out of year already. While governments are winning time to milk this world, scientists are infuriated and hopeless seeing science being not only dismissed but denied[8]. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is born out of science community in England and is an attempt to put pressure and shift governments to come up with viable solutions. It does so by using contemporary techniques, tactics, mediums, strategies in activism. One of them is the use of modern brand identity. I explore and analyse this field using my graphic design knowledge. The movements greatest challenge is to adapt this identity and yet stay consistent in the message they convey. They do it by graphic visual production on social, news and mass medias, which I examine. I try to construct a useful critique for the brands development.

[7]Neo-liberal economic model assumes a number of false facts, which construct the system of profit for the few shareholders of the corporations. Nick Hanauer, an entrepreneur, who founded and co-founded 3 dozens of companies world wide, in the TED talk “The dirty secret of capitalism — and a new way forward” explains the false assumptions on which neo-liberal economics are based on. Under such economic model, greed is good, and "…widening inequality is efficient, the only purpose of the corporation is to enrich shareholders. “. Nick then offers an alternative way of defining economic forces. He lays out some principles of the new more sustainable, equitable economic model. In the talk he says “Market capitalism is an evolutionary system, in which prosperity emerges through a positive feedback loop, between increasing amounts of innovation and increasing amounts of consumer demand. Innovation is the process by which we solve human problems, consumer demand is the mechanism through which market selects for useful innovations. As we solve more problems, we become more prosperous. As we become more prosperous, our problems and solutions become more complex, and increasing technical complexity requires ever higher levels of social and economic cooperation, in order to produce the more highly specialised products that define the modern economy.” According to this definition, our current economics have been possible even when they were based on false assumptions. The early stages at the modern economy had relatively simple problems to solve with abundance of resources at everyone’s reach. With time civilisations grew into an enormously complex systems. Now the problems are greater than the solutions at our disposal. Therefore until recently no one couldn’t even claim that the system is incapable of providing solutions, because it managed to function in prosperous environments at the beginning of the modernisation but currently lack vision for how to become more efficient, at the same time maintain the comforts of modern life.
[8]In the interview with dr. Peter Carter, who is one of the IPCC scientist, critically summarising the climate science and explains how denial is not only existing in society but in the very structures that make policies, regulations.

At the very center of these new communities lay the same motives that can be found in social behavior studies of disasters. Scientists are continue making research on how global warming will produce a new era shaped by ever increasing frequencies of disasters and destruction of biosphere. I observed a correlation between communities that rise during disasters and ones starting to take shape in XR movement. The difference is clear in the scale of them as objects. For example 9/11 was a national scale event that as a disaster took place in this one city and involved more countries in the aftermath, but global warming is taking place across the whole planet and involves the sun as a major factor making the scale of the disaster reaching out of the perimeter of the earth. I called it a hyper-disaster in the name of Timothy Morton who named global warming a hyperobject. I then study this disaster and the community that it produced in terms of it being hyper, which makes extinction rebellion a hyper-community as the scale of it extends beyond one place, motive, end goal.

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[9]San Fransisco, 1906, Telegraph Hill from Clay St.

Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit

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[10]San Francisco earthquake and fire. Photograph of a Typical Bread Line in the Early Stages of Relief Distribution

Rebecca Solnit in her book A paradise built in hell talks about disasters: events that disrupt societies with a great impact. She takes a step forward and analyses communities that arise from those disasters. She limits herself to right about 5 disasters, which happened in North-America with additional references to the world's famous disasters like Chernobyl, London Blitz, WW2, Vietnam war. She divided her book into chapters according to the events. She always start the chapter by describing what she learned about the disaster. Where, when, how it takes place and then analyses how failing government actions arise from phenomenon called elite panic. In every case she explicitly talks about citizen actions, rise of community, evident altruism, conflicts and longevity of social change. Horrible in itself, disaster is sometimes a door back into paradise, the paradise at least in which we are who we hope to be, do the work we desire, and are each our sister’s and brother’s keeper [11] tells Solnit. She looks at the disaster not so much like a journalist but a sociologist. She observes what does the disaster do to the society and it’s citizens (citizens in this context mean people who experience the disaster, not citizens of the nation). While all disasters most definitely do physical destruction to the area in which citizens live, the psychological challenges that arise from that damage are equally explored in this book.

She starts the book with a conclusion on what common aspects she observed during her study of disasters The positive emotions that arise in those unpromising circumstances demonstrate that social ties and meaningful work are deeply desired, readily improvised, and intensely rewarding[12]. Through out the book she continues exploring the joy that people express in the times of despair. It’s controversial to view disasters through a lens of joy, as they are generally represented as negative, fearful, chaotic. The book consists of 5 chapters: 1906 San Fransisco earthquake, 1917 Halifax explosion, 1985 Mexico City earthquake, 2001 New York City 9/11 attacks and 2005 New Orleans storm Katrina. In each chapter she first describes the circumstances in which the disaster took place. This varies a lot with each disaster but she commonly talks about: why the disaster happened; how was the society prepared to handle such event; what did the event look like from ground zero; what happened to the people after the disaster; how authorities reacted; what were the side effects of the disruptions in society? In each chapter she explores a few different topics in order to explain her point, which is that disaster often act as catalyst for communities to rise. It can be hard to comprehend because not many people have experienced a disaster first hand but many have a bias idea what they know from popular culture or mass media. The topics explored in each chapter vary from human psychology, to cinema, other writers who went to see the disasters or representation in mass media and elite panic. These different topics overall are not applicable to each disaster because they’ve happened in different cultural norms at different times, nevertheless the exposed human behavior correlates in each chapter. Solnit does a good job in keeping all of the topics coherent between each chapter.

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[13]San Francisco earthquake and fire. People are relaxing on the grass as the fires spread across the city. People are curious and of course there's grief but in that moment of disaster there's a sense of relief that can be observed in this image.
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[14]After the earthquake, people evacuated from office buildings gather in Reforma Avenue, Mexico city.
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[15]Rescued citizens of New Orleans where placed in Super Dome for a few days where they didn't receive any aid, help, sanitation or other support from their government for at least 6 days.
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[16]During London Blitz bombing London's tubes where used shelter. Life didn't stop as many celebrations, and all kinds of entertainment took place.

The game is designed around civilisations of our real world. It’s depicting the progress of human civilisations: increasing capacities, complexities and modernities. To start, you choose one of the civilisations. It includes many extinct pre-historic civilisations like Aztecs, Mapuche, Zulu, that have different characteristics than the modern ones like Polish, American, Australian. All civilisations start in pre-historic era and progress to industrialisation and modernisation. As we approached industrialisation in early 19th century, the window for global warming meter lights up. It informs that by using more oil, gas, all sorts of energies to power up your civilisation, you increase CO2 emissions. That increases the frequency of storms, tornadoes and floods, that cause civilisations to lose land on which you grow food, build cities, industries, get your precious and luxury resources.

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[17]Halifax explosion was the largest detonation on earth made by men prior to WW2. It was an accident in a boat, which carried ammunition for war in Europe. In the image it's very clear how citizens are improvising a rescue mission. They appear calm, in order, curious, there's a lot of discussion going on.

The underlying structure of each chapter is to start with the way this disaster happened, then move to the human condition aspect, specifically how did different classes of society reacted. For each disaster, she introduces witnesses, who expressed their sense of joy, freedom, communal effort. It would be normal to imagine the disaster as a battle ground for survival, filled with suffering. Even though it is hard to grasp how joy exists in the very bottom of disaster, Solnit explicitly highlights that people said they were feeling like living in utopia. The human condition is amplified during such extreme events and the altruism that arises has no boundaries. Each disaster examples of altruism overshadows the selfishness, violence that popular culture has constructed over decades of movies, TV series, books, theater.

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[18]Mexico City earthquake. In the image we can see how normal citizens in combination to with professionals improvise an action to rescue people from a fallen building. The risk is very high that this building can collapse again looking at how it is standing to the angle at which citizens stand. This indicates altruism as the rescuers risk their lives over trying to save strangers.

Social change is at the very core of this book. Rebecca describes When we talk of social change, we talk of movements, a word that suggests vast groups of people walking together, leaving behind one way and traveling towards another. [19] She continues to describe it as it’s the process out of which communities arise. This process is rather bittersweet during disasters as many people die and each death is a tragedy. But to deal with those tragedies you seek for social bonds, support. At the same time when the complexity of the problem is so incredibly large, citizens forget the small issues they had prior to the event. She refers to how everyone is busy and involved in living their lives, going to work, family, friends, all the bubbles society creates. When the disaster happens, capitalism, economics are replaced with moral obligations to care for one another.

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[20]New York City, 9/11 attack. In the image it is visible the amount of volunteers, fire fighters, police, army and construction workers improving rescue missions even though the destruction surrounding them. The urge to help is a natural state in the face of a disaster. It reveals how human altruism is deeply embedded into our genetic codes.

Suddenly, the system breaks down. Prior to the disaster, all your time and space was occupied by that system. During a disaster, such space and time becomes available for an alternative to emerge. It rather becomes a void and there’s a great need to fulfill it with shared purpose. It’s suspended from everyday concern. You give your attention to other people who you’re surrounded with. The social status, money, material possessions all vanish. Some lose all their belongings, other stay safe. This situation forces people to feel empathy for those who they can help. Having to be in that same environment of loss forms mutual relations. Suddenly, the neighbor who was a stranger to you is in vulnerable position. In that case you are left with an option to ignore and move forward, or think what would you like the neighbor to do, if you were in his shoes.

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[21]New Orleans, Katrina flooding. The image is a screen shot from Spike Lee’s film “When the levees broke” in which you can see how younger people are floating elderly in the orange plastic containers to the Convention Centre. Others in a boat are improvising a rescue mission, which was the only help most of the citizens got, when their government lagged for the first 5 days on bringing any aid, except from militarising the area and trapping people in the flooded city.

In the case of a disaster, community is a natural outcome as collaboration brings more benefits than being selfish. Citizens of disaster seek for a shared goal. Communities often form in shared spaces. In the aftermath of a disaster it's could be pop-up kitchens, shelters, open spaces like parks, squares, people's homes, restaurants, refugee camps. Those spaces always plays a crucial role as the people form bonds there. The disaster is an event of great destruction that produces a lot of trash, dirt, things that fall on the ground. That same destruction of architecture is the new space to contemplate over existential thoughts and ideas.

When the towers collapsed, people from Manhattan walked over the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn. After such extreme shock to the whole society, those who walked across the bridge had to think what can be done to now, how to continue living life or what to do next. People walked in calmness to Brooklyn. There they were met with gifts from strangers, like beer, water, food. Everyone just stood in streets and talked, while drinking beers, contemplating over life, and the future of this world. You could talk to a stranger, anyone was open to receive you, accept you as you are. There was no hysteria, no panic. It was strange nevertheless joyful, peaceful[24]. The empathy was in the air, people had time to look at one another, to feel and connect to this space. How Rebecca puts it in her book It’s like a near death experience but lived collectively [25]. But then you come back home, turn on your TV, look at the horrifying image on every channel over and over again, but you know it’s not what happened. The reality was that, yes, more than 3000 people died, but the altruism, trust, connection and contemplation for life it produced was for a way greater number of people who lived through this event. The genuine human nature takes people by surprise, especially when you take NYC as an example. The rush city, working day and night. Everyone runs to work, runs back from work and this takes all your life: stress, fatigue, competition, aggression, grim faces. After the attacks, for one week NYC had time to talk, listen to strangers in the street. It was odd, yet everyone had so much joy from the conversations with strangers.

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[22]NYC, 9/11 attacks. In the image you can clearly see that status, race, authority become secondary in times of a disaster. A small utopia arises as the most altruistic aspects of humanity get amplified.
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[23]NYC, 9/11 attacks. People are walking away from Manhattan to Brooklyn across Williamsburg bridge. There's no rush, people stay in the walking lane. Almost no one goes on the car road even though there are no cars. In times right after the disaster there's a lot of contemplation, time people stand united, sympathise with each other. There's no panic, mayhem, no one is running. Although the situation was extremely order.

One of the most important aspects of disaster is governments reaction. The government often consists of elite class. Often it’s them who least experience the disaster first hand as their power makes them invincible to the destruction that happens. Elite is more free to move or have a better preparation prior to the disaster. Also, often elite is made of people who are selfish and profit driven actors. Their position often relies on strategy rather than improvisation. Elite is a word describing power of influence. Solnit uses disaster sociologist Kathleen Tierney to depict what exactly is elite panic …fear of social disorder; fear of poor, minorities and immigrants; obsession with looting and property crime; willingness to resort to deadly force; and actions taken on the basis of rumour[26] Solnit continues to describe Elite panic as an attempt to …prevent something that may have only existed in their imaginations[29]. A self fulfilling prophecy that is reinforced by the media coverage of how well the authority and establishment is dealing with the chaos. The disaster is often addressed by showing military intervention, the power of the nation, the most brutal way to organise society back into obeying structures.

In the aftermath of disasters, the elites in power panic and perceive all the people as potential treat. But what they fear is not the actual people or victims of the disaster but how Lee Clarke puts it What elites will panic about is the possibility that people will panic[30]. The procedure of how governments function in times of societal shock can be reduced to an attempt to minimise the risk of an outburst, when in the site of disaster people are in their most vulnerable position and least they want is to have more chaos. This is the exact case for what happened in New Orleans in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina. While Solnit went to study the social aspects of recovery in New Orleans and found amazing evidence for human altruism, Spike Lee covered the scenes of the disaster and its citizens with a documentary called When the levee’s broke. It starts with how media already 2-3 days prior to the hurricane hitting New Orleans announced the threat that this hurricane carries. It clearly depicts what the authorities knew and how much they acted before it hit the city. This movie accurately depicts oppression of black communities in terms of how white republican government only made the aftermath worse for the victims of the hurricane. The whole city was militarised and people were left isolated without any aid or food supplies for almost a week. 85% of the city was under water, with some and mostly poorer neighborhoods sitting 2-4 meters deep. All electricity and irrigation systems were shut off. The official authorities decided to use Superdome, Convention Centre and a hotel next to them as shelters for citizens of the disaster. Those areas were surrounded by water also the roads to them. There were many children and elderly people who had no one to guide or help them. When trying to articulate the situation in New Orleans Solnit puts it this way Fed by racism and the enormity of the storm, the elite panic[31] reached extraordinary levels in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina[32], …perhaps the worst case of elite panic in the history of United States[33].

[31]“What elites will panic about is the possibility that people will panic”. The long lasting militariasation in the aftermath of Katrina proved to be no help for the citizens. They were only scared by it, especially considering the racial difference of the population and military forces that is clearly visible in this image.
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[26]New Orleans, Katrina flooding. The lose of authority is often replaced by military force which act apathetically towards the community. Military causes more panic, shuts down volunteers, limits access to resources and evokes sense of danger. In this particular case, due to elite panic, the communication was disrupted to such level that rumors were perceived as facts, which created very low response to the needs of the citizens.
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[28]New Orleans, Katrina flooding. Militarisation of disaster area proves to be the worse reaction for the victims. The powerless citizens are met with apathy. Military acts the same way they would in the war zone. This leaves the most vulnerable citizens to face the disaster aftermath with even more difficulty.

Particularly in New Orleans the rumors like armed gangs raping 7 year old girls in Convention Centre24 were spread by mass media, which created immense hysteria. None of the rumors were found true later on. The police was allowing to shoot any looters so due to hysteria on the news the civilians in white neighborhoods barricaded and started shooting at any black person, who passed by trying to leave the city and carried stuff with them35. None of the rumors were found real, nor the shooters got convicted of any murders.

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[38]Obvious racial oppresion seen in this image, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina
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[39]"The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in which a million people were left flooding in New Orleans"

This was enforced by the racism that existed prior to Katrina. But the truth was that gangster in Superdome and Convention Centre did go looting but brought whatever food, water, cloths, whatever they could find, back to the stranded areas and shared with whoever needed them. They did carry guns but were protecting women, children and elderly people, because there were rumors of rape in these places. The nurse interviewed by Spike Lee recalls We were trapped like animals, but I saw the greatest humanity I’d ever seen from the most unlikely places [36]. One side was oppressed by the other side being the oppressor. Elite panic segregates society based on a bias threat. Elite panic in New Orleans was this devastating because of racism that existed prior to the disaster. For the same reasons rescue missions lagged and most of the deaths happened days after the hurricane in stranded areas. This is more than evident in Spike Lee's documentary, still I fail to comprehend how can the government act that apathetically, and even call their own citizens refugees[37] as they were mostly black.

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[40]The state of London in the mids of 'London Blitz' during WW2. The picture was taken early in the morning as the night. Imagine standing there in the darkness as the sun rises and completely take shape but doesn't fully reveal the condition the city is in, disguising it with smoke of bombs and fires between the buildings.
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[41]Looking for photos of London Blitz the most provokingly attractive ones I found are taken in London Underground. The same way R. Solnit describes, joy is one of the most amplified sensations in times of disaster. smiles of people who didn't knowhow long they have left to live.

Rebecca does mention global warming as one of the reasons for writing this book. To her it's the upcoming disaster, so now is the time to learn what will it bring, what ways, and were are the most challenging areas in the times of despair. She's being an optimist in the book, portraying the communities as destined to be together in the hardest times. She's romanticising the feeling of temporality that brings temporal joy, freedom, sense of oneness. She has never lived in a disaster, but calls it a temporary utopia. She writes how societies were temporarily liberated from capitalism slavery, or even started a revolution as the totalitarian government's incompetence and corruption was revealed in the 1985 Mexico city Earth Quake, by poor construction standards that were the reason of why those citizens lost their homes, families and jobs. She's aware of the hardship people experience as she visits New Orleans in the aftermath. Still, her view on global warming is limited to seeing it as series of disasters, not as one entity, not as the result of all earths biosphere, sun's energy and human industrial activity inter-reacting with one another. I see her observations of altruism as activism, activating people's imagination to see beyond the fear the devastating news will bring. It's a beautiful vision for the whole world if you apply her findings to the disasters that are already happening, although I fail to grasp the realness of it, cause it sounds proper on the paper, but looks horrific in an image. I catch myself contemplating in temporality about the city my family, friends live in, the city I grew up in, and how will we all find joy in the mids of the disaster here. I fail to see to that vision as joyful, but not contrary, I see it as liberating from everydayness, from rush, from building up your life with useless wishful thinking. This way global warming is not going to be a disaster.

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[42]A man kisses a woman on the roof of a building in Brooklyn, New York, after the collapse of the World Trade Center towerson September 11, 2001.
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[43]The darker red is places that have already warmed over 2°C and the pale peach red are 1.5°C.

Global Warming

Globaal Warming

By analysing R. Solnit's research I learned that disasters are shocks to society, that stop everyday life, destroy large amounts of architecture in a specific area, cause disruption in the economy, political and social systems. It is important for me to distinguish how global warming is not the same, therefore I synthesis what disasters are in to the context of Timothy Mortons book Hyperobjects. Global warming is a hyperobject as it is too large of an entity, in relation to human life, to be completely observed. It starts with James Watts inventing and gaining a patent on combustion engine in April 1784. The engine, that was all purpose machine, moving the world to a new horizon, is using carbon fossil fuels. It gets adopted over the next hundred years and that sparked a new era. Industrialisation brought prosperity to all social classes, therefore families started growing, as they could afford better living conditions, better health care. A more democratic ruling system brought safety to society. That is all global warming or how Morton defines it …things that are massively distributed in time and space relative to humans [45]. Therefore disasters that arise due to global warming are not simply objects on their own, but they are part of a larger conglomerate entity. Each year there will be hurricanes, floods, droughts, wild fires, extreme precipitations, extreme heats, that can all be accounted to global warming. As the average temperature is increasing the frequency of disasters does as well. But the environmental, weather, and natural disasters are only fraction to the way those disasters will unfold into the systemic collapse. It's a much larger entity than just one disaster happening in one specific place and time. It is not only many disasters in many places and times, but due to the increasing frequency, it extends into economy, social structures, politics both on ideological and jurisdictional levels. Ever growing frequency of extreme conditions will eventually becomes intertwined, outspread and it will be easier to see it as one entity, therefore I call it a hyperdisaster.

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[44]A well known graph shows the extreme steepness of the population growth. Biologist call it 'breakout of a speeches'. Breakouts end with species the population collapses.

Even though climate scientists coined a term global warming in 1970's, there has been a largely spread and adapted denial campaign across the world to create doubt in the field of climate change science. This was done by oil companies providing academic grants that research the legitimacy of climate science. This way lagging regulations, creating a difficult environment for scientists to reach consensus. By now denial psychology is well documented by a number of scientists working in a field of ecology like Dr. Peter D. Carter with a book Unprecedented Crime: climate change denial and game changers for survival. It's no longer a debate weather climate change is caused by humans. In science communities a consensus on human made climate change exist for the last 30 years. When it comes to societies only a handful of people who read science and want to learn about global warming know and act upon that consensus. Majority of the people ignore warning statements made by scientists. Regions across the world are confronted with record high temperatures. In the last 9 summers 8 were the hottest ever recorded[46]. It's hard to ignore once you experience something like 46°C in France, 40.7°C in Netherlands, ±42°C in Belgium on that same day, 25th of July 2019. In contrary more northern regions like Baltic's, where I'm from, only celebrate hotter, longer summers. Here nowadays winters turn out a bit less cold and accumulate snow only in later January. It's hard to get concerned in these comforting conditions. Without scientific research people are incapable of seeing the deep ecological shift that's happening. The denial is not that people purposefully search for ways to dismiss science, but it's in searching for justification to continue exploiting this planet on a regular basis. How Jem Bendell puts it The 'striving' is based in a rationale of maintaining self-identities related to espoused values[49]. It's unwishful to change modern comfort into austerity. Hyperdisaster will place people in austerity like it or not. We already see dramatic increase in food prices. We now even classify society into those who can afford quality food and those who eat fast and unhealthy food. This is the hyperdisaster. At the same time those who do participate on an individual level in reducing their emissions, practicing to live cleaner, more sustainable lives because they are aware of human induced climate change often do it for wrong reasons. An average person like that thinks there's still time to reverse the change that already happened to climate and that we aim to overcome global warming. On the other hand, scientists are less optimistic. By now, if we consider all industries, political structures, human addiction to modern life, technological infrastructure, inequality between developing and first world countries, and look at the way things are progressing, look at all of it adequately, then we must start considering how to adapt to the changing environments and lead societies into an new era, which will challenge human existence. This is well expressed in J. Bendell's research paper Deep Adaptation with which hope poses existential questions to what does it mean to adapt to a complete collapse of the eco-system, biosphere, stable weather cycle.

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[47]The IPCC is an organization of governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO. The IPCC currently has 195 members. Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. For the assessment reports, IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks. An open and transparent review by experts and governments around the world is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment and to reflect a diverse range of views and expertise. Through its assessments, the IPCC identifies the strength of scientific agreement in different areas and indicates where further research is needed. The IPCC does not conduct its own research.

The same way I learned the power of destruction that disasters hold, I also learned about the human capacity to adapt and find meaning in one another. Only when one human will be left standing meaning will be lost. Until then no matter how large the disaster, humans will seek for each other. And in the face of this hyperdisaster, I see a community rise, that is an early reaction to global warming. A rather hyper-reaction as it has to stretch outside one country, adapting a movement throughout the different continents, cultures, languages. A movement with a goal to force governments take actions, announce the climate crisis and start a real hyper-reaction across the world advising and resourcing with each other. However, in the face of global warming as hyperdisaster, these attempts will be a failure, but further actions will be taken no matter, what will be the status of the society. People will continue fighting for survival for generation to come, before the last human stands or the first humans who will leave to start a new era on Mars or outer-space.

The fact that I played a virtual representation of that disaster is another hyper aspect to it. I think it's my first encounter of global warming as a simulation, which wasn't just an illustration but an experience. This gives a good perspective to how exactly society will deal with it. It doesn't represent future predictions for this world but possible strategies for adapting to the changing environments. It's both scary and beautiful. Global warming by itself is horrifying because we already feel it, see it, calculate it, where as the hyperdisaster is not yet feel-able or visible but can be simulated and imagined from a distance with a sense of beauty. Same way Timothy Morton talks about a black hole, one of his hyperobjects, which is so far away that it cannot do damage to us but our observation of it is more than mermerising, scaling this universe into infinity.

In the end, humans will always find a reason to continue striving for another day. Even if we now attempt to adapt to the new environment (created by global warming), which might turn out to be impossible to live in and extinction will be inevitable, people will stand because they will do it together. Because the meaning of life is at the very core of this question — to survive. Because studying disasters show how the worst conditions, filled with horror and suffering still bring the most meaningful friendships and form bonds, and eventually bring communities together. It's not so much the end goal of those actions, but the existence of actions themselves. The strive for survival begins and ends with a need to be together.

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[50]Annual global temperatures from 1850-2017, The colour scale represents the change in global temperatures, covering 1.35°C.
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[51]Extinction Rebellion London October Uprising, protestors gather to discuss in their affinity groups.

Extinction Rebellion

Extinctiiion Rebellion

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[52]After April 10 Rebellion in London 2019, Banksy made this mural. I doesn't just talk about XR as a movement but the individual struggle and grief for people around the world. It's an ode to the start of actions that are not like protest before were petitions get signed and promises made, but there will be a force for governments to deal will. Intellectually designed dilemma's using all means, all tools necessary to bring the revolution.

We now know that human use of fossil fuels and consumerist lifestyles have an effect on a global scale in such extreme measures that scientists suggest we are facing sixth mass extinction. The problems are as complex as human nature, therefore require humans to come up with equally complex solutions. Extinction Rebellion as a protest movement is a manifestation of scientific, cultural, political and economical reactions. It’s a lot more convoluted than one could completely unfold as it is decentralised, happening all around the globe, starting from the most established societies reaching out to developing ones. It’s symbiotic but fragmented, it’s structured but improvised. There’s no authority in the movement, nevertheless people manage to agree on a consensus, continue moving forward to a new paradigm. It’s a rage against denial and pessimistic human behavior. It’s a statement that a new vision of the world is possible. By studying different disasters I learned that solutions for problems of great complexity lay in human capacity to adapt, creatively use the tools at their disposal and form communities based on values of their culture. For that capacity to exist there needs to be time and effort contributed to come up with those solutions. That can only happen when such space in human life exists. The current political systems are expecting neo-liberal economy to automatically come up with a solution by relying on market demand and supply principle. Current political system has proven us to be incapable of bringing those solutions as the ideas that govern it are fundamentally flawed. This is how I see Extinction Rebellion coming into the equation. Their goal is to say humanity needs this space for an alternative, but to do so they believe the approach has to change: the human relation has to be altered. They attempt to transcend theoretical, academic practices into tactics and strategy of the movement.

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(S1), (S2), (S3)

Extinction Rebellion is made up of creatives, scientists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, philosophers, artists and general supporters of different age, cultures. They are there because the system as a whole is flawed, and they see an opportunity that stands a chance of bringing the needed change. It’s no surprise that most of the people join because they’ve heard about the movement in news media, mass media, social media, from friends, family, or they’ve seen the protest in their city. In all of the cases they encounter the bold, easily recognisable symbol. It’s a circle with sand clock in the middle. It’s something hard to forget or dismiss. It’s as strong as the peace symbol(s1) from 1960’s hippie revolution and anarchist symbol(s2) from 1970’s punk era. It has proven to be the right symbol by functioning in possibly the most widely spread active environmentalists movement today. Already seen by the eyes of billions extinction symbol (s3) is gaining fast momentum and proves to play a crucial role in movements development. The sign says it all by staying simple, yet unique. The extinction symbol has a mysterious history. An anonymous London artist ESP created it in 2011[53]. There is a web page, which tells what the symbol stands for and guidelines for a non–commercial use only. ESP didn’t make it for the use of Extinction Rebellion and had nothing to do with the movement before it started, but was created with an intention for activism[54] use. Ecohustler (ESP) talks in the interview how he was sketching random designs, but once he drew it, the power of the symbol became suddenly clear[55]. Who’s ESP will stay a mystery that only makes the symbol more interesting.

[53]“The symbol above represents extinction. The circle signifies the planet, while the hourglass inside serves as a warning that time is rapidly running out for many species. The world is currently undergoing a mass extinction event, and this symbol is intended to help raise awareness of the urgent need for change in order to address this crisis. Estimates are that somewhere between 30,000 and 140,000  species are becoming extinct every year in what scientists have named the Holocene, or Sixth Mass Extinction. This ongoing process of destruction is being caused by the impact of human activity. Such a catastrophic loss of biodiversity is highly likely to cause widespread ecosystem collapse and consequently render the planet uninhabitable for humans.”
[54]“In 2019, the New Statesman, reported that after ESP created the symbol in 2011, they contacted over 20 environmental groups to promote the symbol with little success. However, in 2018, the Extinction Rebellion (XR) contacted ESP regarding adoption and use of the symbol,[b] and ESP clarified on their Extinction Symbol website, that the symbol is freely available to those who wish to use it for non-commercial purposes. In May 2019, Gail Bradbrook of XR issued a public statement to clarify that: "Not only does XR not support or endorse any corporations, it reminds them that the Extinction Symbol may never be used for commercial purposes, including fundraising. The Extinction Symbol is loaned in good faith to XR by UK street artist ESP”."
[55]"At the start of 2011 I was just randomly sketching designs and as soon as I drew the symbol I knew what it was”

Protest in Amsterdam October 7th

Protest iin Amsteeeeeerdam October 7th

I went early in the morning for a train that was leaving 05:30 to Amsterdam Zuid station, for which I had to wake up at 04:45. I was in Amsterdam only at 06:30. At 07:00 I was already standing in front of the blockade. Some abstract thought, a vision brought me here. I am imagining the world, which is falling, hitting the bottom and breaking into pieces. But here I am, manifesting that odd vision. I know this because of my interest in science, sociology, anthropology. I believe their ideas, but they don't gather people to protest, create a movement, or inform what to do about the world. They are rather theoretical studies, examining humans, biodiversity, technology, and the relations between all. Yet I was there standing in front of the police forces. It’s the XR brand that has spread from London to Amsterdam in less than a year. They summed up the science and claimed the reasons for this protest to exist.

I started walking towards the crowd. I passed the police personnel. They seemed to dismiss me, although I felt exposed. I was wondering, what do they think about a guy with neon orange snowboarding trousers and bright blue rain-jumper. On my chest I wore a red piece of textile with a word EXTINCTION stamped in black capital letters[56]. I walked into the crowd and I immediately felt I had to smile. Passing the police reminded me of entering a night club, one that everyone can join if they come on time. Then there’s a sense of belonging to the chaos that evokes energy in all participants. It’s loud once you’re inside the barricade. Committed protesters were singing slogans in full spirit. Musicians accompanying them. One guy took out an electric guitar, plugged it in to his mobile amplifier and started playing Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze. A song about LSD trip, yet an anthem to the 60’s hippie movement. At that moment, I though it was out of context, but now I see that possibly he was trying to highlight the correlation with hippie movement. Though I think, he's just romanticising.

[56]"At the start of 2011 I was just randomly sketching designs and as soon as I drew the symbol I knew what it was”

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[57]People were given these A6 size papers with lyrics by a few older members. This was performed by a crowd of 20+ singers and 2+ guitarists. Two women held a poster with the lyrics, who initiated this actions.

Slogan 1

Standing as a rock

Rooted like a tree

We are here

Standing strong

In our rightful place

Slogan 2

What do we want

Climate justice

When do we want it


Slogan 3

The people gonna rise like the water

We gonna face this crisis now

I hear the voice of my great

grand daughter

Climate justice now

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[58]Affinity group forming, preparation and presentation of the plan. 2 days before the October Rebellion happened. Although affinity groups are a natural way for humans to organize and are, in that sense, as old as humanity, the origin of affinity groups in the current context began in the 16th century in Britain with dining clubs that would meet at a set location and at a recurring time. One of the earliest recorded examples of such was a group that called itself the "Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen" which met at the Mermaid Tavern in London the first Friday night of each month. Membership was strictly limited and many of the Elizabethan Era's most prominent literary figures belonged. They gathered to eat, drink and socialize with other members, and to discuss literary matters.
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[59]Affinity group forming, preparation and presentation of the plan. 2 days before the October Rebellion happened. Although affinity groups are a natural way for humans to organize and are, in that sense, as old as humanity, the origin of affinity groups in the current context began in the 16th century in Britain with dining clubs that would meet at a set location and at a recurring time. One of the earliest recorded examples of such was a group that called itself the "Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen" which met at the Mermaid Tavern in London the first Friday night of each month. Membership was strictly limited and many of the Elizabethan Era's most prominent literary figures belonged. They gathered to eat, drink and socialize with other members, and to discuss literary matters.

These slogans are carefully designed to resonate with the protesters. They move you, keep you warm. They keep everyone’s energy consistent. But it’s not the same when you read them alone at home in comparison to shouting them with hundred of actively engaged rebels. It’s like if you become one mind, shared consciousness. You can skip a word, or stop singing, but you cannot stop hearing when you’re part of the crowd. You are immersed into a symbiotic, self-generating mechanism. It lets everyone share their energy, which is so needed in a cold October morning. Even more needed when you’re outside the whole day sitting on the pavement. It’s a clever tactic, that takes everyone by the hand and involves for a ride. Once the crowd starts singing, there’s no end to it. They are designed to be repetitive, easy to memorise, in simple 4/4 rhythm. Once the crowd gets bored of one, there goes another one. It circulates to keep you busy while you’re blocking the road. 

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[60]October 7th protest, west side barricade, Amsterdam, 9:00~.
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[62]October 7th protest, east side barricade, Amsterdam, 12:00~.

Inside the blockade, my first mission was to find my affinity group[59]. It’s a unit to which you get randomly assigned. It’s balanced in age and gender. The affinity groups consist of one well-being member, one general representative, one media representative, balanced numbers of arresteables and non-arresteable. I was a non-arresteable, which means I am risking to get arrested inside the barricade, but according to the Dutch law, if I’m standing on the road, the police have to give me a warning and only then attempt to arrest me. The arresteables were designated to get arrested for blocking traffic. The well-being person looks after the health and emotional state of all affinity group members. The general representative is the one who looks after the group: you check-in, check-out, represents the groups opinion if there’s a decision to make, informs the group of what’s reported in the news media or in the protest, etc. Media representative talks to journalists. Organisers instructed everyone else to better avoid talking to media (especially if you’re non-dutch). We agree on roles in a brief training seminar. The representative, media representative and well-being roles are non-arresteable. You fill in a form with some important information, which is designed so that, if, during the protest, a non-arresteable get arrested, then the arrestee support will know how to contact you, and help you. It’s a strictly designed structure for a group that just met for couple of hours prior to the protest. Everyone inside the protest was in one of the affinity groups. They were supposedly 70+ of them, each containing 10-14 people. I was told about 80% of people showed up that Monday. However, it didn’t take long before I found my group called “Power Bank”[59]. The design of affinity groups worked for a few different reasons: they always informed everyone in the groups of what’s going on; the representative would inform arrestee support team about the arrests; we took care of the belongings of arrested members; there was a team vibe; everyone shared food and drinks; there was always someone to talk to about your personal experience; you genuinely get to know your affinity group members. The affinity group aspect is invisible to the media or anyone outside the protest. The activeness of affinity groups made it seem like protesters were part of a well established community. It didn’t feel like authority and you could just leave anytime you wanted. Naturally the older members of the group took more responsible positions.

[59]During the training seminar, they showed us a map plan of how will the area look like once the protesters establish the barricades in front of Rijks Museum. We were supposed to be in the E section Barricade. But the plan completely failed because the police forces took over the whole area, which was planed to be occupied. The first 400 people at 5:00 am roamed through the police and established a barricade anyway.

There were about three to four lines of protesters firmly standing, holding hand, arms, when the police approached the barricade for the first time[61]. Police concentrated their forces on the east side, while they blocked the new protesters from coming in. There were about 100 police personnel on the east side and maybe 20 on the west side, with numbers increasing. I was told that by the numbers of arrestee forms there should be about 700 to 800 protesters inside the barricade, with another 200-300 wanting to join from the west but separated by a zone of 50 meters radius patrolled by police. There was no way out even if you wanted to leave. I thought there’s no more hope for the plan to occupy the area for next 7 days, but the crowd didn’t seem to care about it. While our common enemy was the police not letting us to establish the camp, I realised that we aren’t trying to do that anymore. The enemy was not the police, nor there was an enemy there at all. There was only the blockade made of protesters, police forces surrounding them and more or less 30 journalist from both inside and around the blockade. The journalists were as confused as everyone but they had a job to do: report on what’s going on in the protest. The journalist were mostly in teams of 2: a reporter and a camera person. They were an essential part of this protest, because we’re not here to fight the police or obstruct traffic, but here to get the attention of the media. Journalists are links, agents to the other side of the screen, the meta-reason. XR designed the whole protest around the news media and mass media. They were there to tell the story of what is happening in front of Rijk’s Museum. The protesters show their vulnerability and transcend scientists statements. Controlling the message turns out to be a lot harder. While on the media, the story sounds something like There are approximately 800 people blocking traffic, wasting police resources and being costly to the government, the real message is There are approximately 800 protesters sacrificing their freedom because they fear extinction of human race and urge governments to make real actions to reduce the rate at which we’re destroying biosphere of this planet.

[61]When the police started arresting the protesters, my eyes burst into tears. I had to contemplate a lot about the tears, because it’s very rare that I ever cry. It was like if years of suppressed emotions, fears have bursted into my vision. As I continued looking through the tears into an army of police and hundreds of loud protesters surrounding me, I had a boost of motivation to continue no matter what. There’s a sense of pride in crying, yet I felt shy to show that I cry. I kept on shouting the words, that energised me and amplify all the emotions that were already deeply present. It’s a seriously disturbing experience, nonetheless one of the most meaningful moments of my life so far.

Message through Mass Media

Message throooooough Mass Media

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[63]October 7th protest, east side barricade, Amsterdam, 12:00~.

There are many factors involved in constructing the message on mass media using a protest. It’s an image, a visual, sounds, spoken, written language and meta language. There were over 60 cities taking part in the movement that same day. How do you design a universally adaptable message to different culture in different languages? What will resonate with the audience? Which elements of XR brand appear improvised, random and which are controlled?

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[63]October 7th protest, east side barricade, Amsterdam, 10:00~.

What you see on the other side of the protest is NOS news website. To brake it down, the first element you notice is an image of people sitting on the floor in the street, being surrounded by police. It shows both a small portion of protestors and police forces. The title of the article says At least 80 arrests at climate blockade in Amsterdam. The image doesn’t show any relation to Extinction Rebellion movement, nor the title talks about it. It informs the reader about the problems these protestors caused to the government. It doesn’t inform why they got arrested. The article talks about the movement but only briefly mentions the reason . Someone in the protest commented At a certain point, the time for friendly questions and signing petitions is over. From my perspective, I understand the person who said it. I interpret it that signing petition has not worked, therefore we need to do more to attract the government’s attention. The audience can interpret it, that Extinction Rebellion is not a friendly movement, and it will not collaborate with the government. The article doesn’t provide a reader with more details about the reasons this movement exist, therefore creates a bias opinion.

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Brand Identity colours of Extinction Rebellion

NOS article video on YouTube[62] and different videos on the article's webpage talk about the protest simultaneously happening around the world and explores more the XR's movement. The XR's brand colour scheme has a strong striking effect on the screen. You don’t need to know what are the signs, banners, posters are saying, for you to know it’s Extinction Rebellion. You notice green, pink, yellow, bright blue, purple, orange, dark orange that appear on flags, posters, banners, stamped in black letters. An unusual colour combination makes them standout and grabs your attention. These colours are playful, but the black adds boldness to the chemistry of the movement. According to the brand guidelines created by Great Britain’s Extinction Rebellion, the main colour is green but I would suggest it has evolved into a combination of pink and green. They are distinguishable from everything else on screens and create contrast with the land scape in the image. The black for type is practical for stamping and printing. Black ink covers better than colour inks. This makes the signage more legible, therefore the message more available.

The police forces carefully infiltrated into the organising XR Netherlands community and were commited to stop the establisment of the camp, that was supposed to last for around 1 week and function like a free festival zone. Anyone could come in and either join the protest or attend lectures, performances, actions, etc. The police confiscated 2 kitchens, a boat, some equipment for barricades, etc. The police blocked the road for the whole Sunday night. Protestors decided to improvise. The protest did appear on all media across the Netherlands, which was the needed impact for the community to grow.

Brand Indentity Analysis

Braand Indentiiity Analysis

The XR brand guidelines are available to download on their main website64, together with fonts free to use for non-commercial purposes. The name of display font used for tittles is FUCXED CAPS. It is only capital glyphs, except the logotype has small cases. It strikes a statement whatever you write using it. The body copy font  Crimson text, is mainly for their own website but also posts on social media, and printed materials. Crimson is a Garamond inspired old-style font. A bit condensed with a variety of special glyphs for classical grammar and different languages. It feels conservative. Free for download, versatile, very legible and can fit many characters in one line. In the brand guidelines the font comes in regular, bold, and both italic versions, whereas on the main web page rebellion.earth they do not use italics. They chose these fonts to be original with a bit of conservative look. In the branding guidelines they provide multiple examples of how to design posters. Their main slogan is Rebel for life and they provide with 6 alternative ones ranging from a soft tone like tell the truth to in your face tone Climate chaos: we’re fucked. On multiple XR websites they provide posters, banner designs, prepared in the right dimensions for print. They come in A6 to A2 sizes.

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FUCXED CAPS, Crimson Text

No matter which part of the world you are from, you will notice, recognise the aesthetics used by XR communities. Be visible, bold, strong. There’s always a clear, striking element in each design, mostly black on colour background. It’s then in most cases complimented by the logotype or the logo symbol. The logo symbol can standalone as the largest element in the design. The aim of these designs is to construct a repetitive pattern association. Marketing agencies base most of modern advertisement66 on this idea. From the examples above, the audience’s emotional response to the designs could be a mix of fear, anger, nostalgia, joy, sadness, trust, anticipation. They aim each of these emotions at different people. It correlates with the goal of XR as they represent very diverse groups of participants, and even more diverse groups of audience. In the wall’s image with 6 glued A3 posters (P1), (one with an orange skull and another one yellow smiley face) the additional information is written by hand. This is intentionally left space for writing the event's information. It’s a thoughtful design decision. It separates the designer from the design user. It allows the user to augment designs without destroying the identity of XR. It’s designed for versatile use in different languages, cultures, city landscapes. It also gives a feeling of authenticity, personal connection, local community. These are well-thought design strategies that proved to work in England, but are harder to adapt in other countries.

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[65]XR provides already made design files that you can download from their website and print

Few people have digital design skills to make banners, brochures, posters, stencils. The protestors can find the designs provided by the XR movement. But to do so you have to go to rebellion.earth, then navigate to act now page, then find a folder icon and press on the button find out more, then in a new page find art brush icon and press again find out more, and only then you’ll be inside the page with downloadable print material. The U/I for such important part of the protest is not available directly enough. I cannot think of a reason there isn’t a link to these resources directly on the home page, when XR brand is based on participants using them as much as possible. Also, the word art group I interpreted as performance art rather than print works, when the page only comprises print work resources. So I would suggest to name it print materials.

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XR posters in London advertising April 2019 civil disobedience protests.

In this protest XR Amsterdam has printed a few boxes of A4, 12 page booklets to give away to people passing by. This booklet called SORRY is definitely not an example of good graphic design, but is an important medium for the movement. The booklet felt under-developed, too serious, almost corporate, with no statement or voice in the design. The content of the booklet is explaining what is Extinction Rebellion Netherlands, why it exists. It introduces the members or founders of the Dutch XR. It talks about the 3 demands. One spread is about the XR movement and last page informs where, how to join the movement. While all of it is important information, it doesn’t create the impact needed to make it look like it’s urgent matter. The booklet achieves a good representation of the brand identity by using 3 typefaces and correct colour scheme. The images in the booklet are well retouched and strike a positive impression. But the design is somewhere between boring and corporate. It conveys nothing about the content except that it’s XR. There’s no fun in it, no freedom, it looks like an annual report for a pipe company that is sent my mail. I was giving away these booklets to people passing by and they would pick up, read it, but their reaction wouldn’t last because the communication was too subtle. There was nothing that really caught their attention, not elements that represent the playfulness of this movement, nothing authentic about this booklet, no value in keeping it. Yes, it’s clear that Dutch XR has little money for printing a beautiful brochure on nice paper using PMS colours, but if there’s a booklet with an authentic design, then people might keep it and treat it with value. This would create a long lasting effect not only through a physical presence of the booklet but its ability to transcend ideas of XR.

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'SORRY' is an A4 booklet in Dutch, given out during XRamsterdam events.

The meta language layer can be found on many levels in XR's branding. Vulnerability is a very obvious one. Most of the people presented by XR don't smile, a lot of children used in XR campaigns, the tone of voice when talking to the media is calm. The most popular action by XR is a thing called a die-in. There people simply lay together in the street or a square, or shopping mall, and pretend they are dead. It's a very direct message that doesn't require any preparation or tools. It's a message of how vulnerable this society is, how fast we all can fall. Another part of their branding is fun. This comes through slogans, songs, colourful, playful visual identity. The protest is supposed to be a festival, where people can dance, sing, play. This attracts more younger audience. Looking at a general form of protest people are mainly motivated by their anger, disappointment, which they show while they're there. In XR because fun is an important part, this anguish, anger, fear is not highlighted during the protest although of course those are motives for people who come there. The form stays the same but the format changes.

Brand Indentity on Social Media

Braand Indentiiity on Social Media

It is not a surprise that social media’s play a crucial role in movements development and scalability. It’s a unique example of how marketing, advertisement, graphic design, cinema, photography, sociology, art, fashion, music and activism can activate a message, a call for a revolution. Extinction Rebellion embraces, acknowledges and sees what the world has become. This way undertaking an opportunity to shape the future of it. It’s an art project of a scale yet unseen, unwitnessed. Its motto is to involve everyone from every field is unprecedented in activism on such a scale. It’s an attempt to build a society. A new paradigm of thought, which we already see in architecture, design, innovation, fashion, food industry, energy industry, transport industry taking first steps towards an eco-friendly, more efficient ways of production. This will only increase with years to come and XR stands in the middle of it.

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[68], [69], [70], [71], [72]
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[73], [74], [75], [76], [77]

For connecting and sharing information, Extinction Rebellion uses Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and email. Although it’s evident that only a combination of all platforms can achieve such scalability, as a graphic designer I want to concentrate on the use of Instagram[67], thus it conveys the message through an image more than any other platform. I could find 70+ Instagram accounts with followers per account ranging from 600000+ follows to commonly a few thousand and smaller ones to a few hundreds. The top 10 most followed XR accounts are @extinctionrebellion[68], @xr_youth[69], @extinctionrebellionfrance[70], @extinctionrebelliondeutschland[71], @xrberlin[72], @extinctionrebellionireland[73], @xrargentina[74], @xr_nyc[75], @extinctionrebellionnl[76] and @xrscotland[77]. The fact that, 5 of them start with ‘extinctionrebellion’ and other 5 with ‘xr’ is an inconsistency within the movement and can be internpreted as lack of communication. I noticed over all that most of national accounts start with ‘extinctionrebellion’, whereas regional and city accounts start with ‘xr’. It could have been an attempt to categorise, yet I don’t think the movement is big enough to need it. The first thing you will notice about the accounts are the profile pictures.

[67]Different formats for instagram video: normal image or video post, tagged posts, stories and highlights, IGTV, linguistic formats for post description and user description, and, in some cases, using the wall of account’s posts as one image.

They all use the extinction symbol, which is black in most of the accounts. Most commonly in profile pictures, there’s a design element added, which refers to a region, country, city or group that is being represented. In most cases there’s a connotation to the country’s flag, environment, identity colours, XR’s branding graphics or new elements invented by that community. Those elements make it easier for the audience to identify with the movement, however the graphics sometimes lack quality design: the graphic is pixilated[78], doesn't follow the brand's guidelines[79], too illustrative[80], or lacking clarity[81]. A lot of the accounts have the main logo (green and black), which might be a statement that this community doesn’t want to represent their region, and rather stay autonomous.

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[78], [79], [80], [81]

Instagram as a platform provides different formats, ways of showing your content82. All have a certain function in XR movement. They mainly use the posts for bigger messages, announcements, professional production videos, event overview, art projects, promotional videos. Stories hold a similar content but are often about some specific events or announcements, news. Communities make 'stories' on the spot with the tools provided by InstagramStories. Highlights are for informing about what this movement stands for, what does it do, etc. XR uses IGTV for wide format videos that are longer than 1 minute, therefore tell a more detailed story. Communities manage their accounts by different teams in different countries. In all cases they are using local language, sometimes with English subtitles. For example, @extinctionrebellionnl writes all their posts on Instagram in Dutch but their email’s to subscribers both in Dutch and English. The information in English is for a huge number of international students and expats, who are interested in actively supporting the movement. Whereas Dutch is for Dutch natives, who are the main target of this campaign. If they seek to engage with the government of each region, it must happen through the national language, otherwise the movement’s communities won’t be able to grow, nor the government can take them too seriously.

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Image description from @xr_youth account “Rebels from @xryouthaustria pour fake blood over the Rahlstiege monument in a highly symbolic act of civil disobedience. This blood represents the blood of all the children that will have to attempt to survive on a devastated planet. It represents our pain as we have to see how nature around us and our futures are being destroyed! It is the blood of all living beings that are and will become extinct due to ruthless human activities. It is the blood of all the children growing up now who will face the consequences of our inaction. It is the blood of humanity. Our indifference is that which will pour this blood. The exploitation of resources, the burning of fossil fuels and the inaction of our politicians will shed the blood of future generations. The blood of extinction clings to the hands of our society. We mourn all those who will be bequeathed this dying Earth .- Brendon, XRY activist (roughly translated)”

One of the highlight of XR, which I would like to celebrate in my thesis, is the way art is being used by the movement to convey a message. This is not uncommon in activism, but the movement is becoming like a platform for artists to be heard. Art has always been about the human consciousness, human identity, representation of human mind, perception. I think nowadays art world has been merging with design, photography, fashion, yet it stays art: invincible to critique if done well; capable of shifting human emotions; evoking empathy.

The image above is a good example of how design, art, photography, performance and activism can collaborate and form a compelling effect. Its primary message is very simple. It communicates the fear and vulnerability with …the blood of all the children growing up now, who will face the consequences of our inaction. It is the blood of humanity. says Brendon, XRY activist. What disturbs me is not the image but the fact it’s posted on @xr_youth account. Recently it would’ve been unquestionably taboo, unethical to construct such sad future vision for children. Yet, we now accept it, because the issue is that serious, at the same time ignored to this point. How do those children perceive their future? What do they envision when they see this image? Is this the point in human evolution when we overcome fear of death and honestly look each other into the eyes?

In the background of this art performance, they use their own designs for banners, which don’t follow the brand’s identity. It does not provide the blood red colour in the brand guidelines. Some posters are red with a green extinction symbol. I understand that they connect this performance to Austrian flag colours, and I assume they wanted to avoid any correlation with the Nazi identity, which was black, red and white. Austria has a historical link with Nazis, who spilled a lot of blood too. So it’s debatable of how much you can change the identity when applying it to different nations, cultures. It’s vital that between the communities it’s communicated these changes, discussed for advice, and aimed to tell a clear message.

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@extinctionrebellion post description "Gideon Mendel's images force us to confront the real-life consequences of the climate and ecological emergency – real people, real homes... Millions of people around the world are already suffering, and if we don’t act now, this will only get worse. If not you, who? If not now, when? Join us on Friday, as we take to the streets for the #GlobalClimateStrike – to demand action from global governments, we need #EverybodyNow Check out our “Up Next” story highlight to find out how you can get involved. Words from the photographer @gideonmendel "Drowning World is an exploration of flooding using photography and video. My aim in this long-term project is to portray the human condition within the context of overwhelming climate events around the world. The subject matter has fundamentally challenged my practice: over the years there has been a shift from a traditional documentary approach to one that incorporates more conceptual and metaphorical elements alongside a deepening activism. In 2007 I photographed two floods that occurred within weeks of each other, one in the UK and the other in India. I was struck by the contrasting impacts of these floods, and the shared vulnerability that seemed to unite the people I encountered in this landscape. Since then, I have endeavored to visit flood zones around the world, witnessing a shared human experience of catastrophe that transcends geographical, cultural and economic divides."

Photographer’s Gideo Mendel[84] work was published on @extinctionrebellion. I am not surprised XR chose this work, since the photographer is well-known and personally interested in the movement. What I find interesting is that the photographer allowed to be associated with the movement. G. Mendel work series Drowning World deals with floods across the world. Of course he wanted to be exposed on @extinctionrebellion account with +600k followers, which advocates for what his work is about. It’s more and more accepted for artists, photographers, designers and creatives to take part in XR movement. Compared to the art world, or design industry, which still, as all societies live in denial, might perceive XR as cheesy. An example of this phenomenon would be from KABK as zero of my graphic design department classmates were interested in taking part in 2019 October 7th protests in Amsterdam. Especially not the teachers, nor other artists from KABK. This platform can be very beneficial for an artist’s career. On the other hand, XR accounts can abuse the power of followers. I fear that they will become influencers of activism. It only depends if they use that force responsibly unlike mass media and news media do.

[84]In the case of G. Mendel it’s not about the influence but about the effect of the art that he makes. He already has 109k followers and probably can make a good living without XR but definitely there’s a factor of influence that the power of followers holds.

Representatives on Mass Media

Representatives oooooon Mass Media

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Image description from @xr_youth account “Rebels from @xryouthaustria pour fake blood over the Rahlstiege monument in a highly symbolic act of civil disobedience. This blood represents the blood of all the children that will have to attempt to survive on a devastated planet. It represents our pain as we have to see how nature around us and our futures are being destroyed! It is the blood of all living beings that are and will become extinct due to ruthless human activities. It is the blood of all the children growing up now who will face the consequences of our inaction. It is the blood of humanity. Our indifference is that which will pour this blood. The exploitation of resources, the burning of fossil fuels and the inaction of our politicians will shed the blood of future generations. The blood of extinction clings to the hands of our society. We mourn all those who will be bequeathed this dying Earth .- Brendon, XRY activist (roughly translated)”

While it’s relatively possible to control the aesthetics and the message on social channels, gets harder on news media, mass media makes this job almost impossible as they don't have to follow any guidelines. We are presented with morning shows as if they are competent to discuss all the different issues and topics. In reality they are only entertainment presenting themselves as journalist.

XR is a decentralised movement, therefore there’s no president or other form of authority who would represent the whole movement. Yet there are representatives of the region sent to the morning talk shows, where they get bullied by the show hosts. Just like in politics, these talk shows require professional skills to deal with the pressure from the hosts and other guest. In the morning shows, often there’s only one guest from XR, 2-3 hosts and a guest that supports the opinion of the hosts. Same way in Good Morning Britain talk show. Its major audience would be older age group, who watch television in the morning. This would include a lot of retired English citizens. Although, XR claims to be a non-ideological[86] movement, I would identify them as more leftist, but it doesn’t matter because they don't know what kind of system works or doesn’t work; they are united to express the urgency for actions that governments need to make.

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[87]XR representative on Good Morning Britain
[86]In the video 1:51 XR representative says “We’re not ideological. That may be different people in extinction rebellion think different version of capitalism is cool, or they like this form or that form. It’s not down to us to say we want this kind of system or not that one or whatever. This one’s not working for us.”

In the Good Morning Britain[86] morning talk show the XR representative is a former chief police officer. There are 4 other people in the studio: 2 women hosts, a man who’s the main host of the show and a parliamentarian. To put pressure on XR representative, the show’s director intentionally places him between hosts and other guest. This is happening in all shows, as even having two representatives would be risky of how they could enforce stronger arguments for XR actions, and oppose the opinion of their audience. The main argument of the show is that XR protests have used so much police resources that other areas like east London were lacking police guard. Then, a schizophrenic part of the argument is that because there weren’t enough police, 2 teenagers got stabbed in east London. The show hosts speculate if there were no such protests, may be the deaths of those teenagers could have been prevented. Then, they pose a general question about this whole movement: XR protestors: heroes or villains?. I will deconstruct what’s going on in the show, to find how it represents XR movement. They position the main show host between two attractive women, who always both agree with him, and he’s always the one talking the most. They placed the guests in a dark corner. A photograph of a beautiful sunrise in London highlight behind the hosts. The guests have multiple screens behind them showing the protests of XR happening while they’re talking. When the male host speaks, you see London standing behind him as if he’s representing the city. In the footage he often leans to the left, away from the guests. The XR representative leans towards him but looks like he’s leaning to the right. He’s looking straight into the eyes of the hosts. While the male host is speaking, and the camera is on the guest, you can see the hand of the host in the bottom left corner of the picture frame pointing at the guest. It stayed there for a few minutes, while the host and XR representative were arguing. We could interpret the hand as showing disrespect, shaming the person. The former chief of police knows that their goals is to make sensational claims while his goal is to make the audience hear 3 demands of XR. When the hosts show videos of young people having fun in the protests. She comments …when you have people dancing, and acting like they’re in some kind of rave, the guest tells her  Young people get bored, they want to entertain themselves, you must understand. The director of the show choses to show those youngsters dancing and having fun, because you’d think these demonstrations are useless, wasting police resources, and convert young people to some mad sect. The XR representative was trying to stay calm and always come back to 3 demands. The show only presents a bias image of the protest and the movement, yet designing the perspective of the host as superior, informed, conservative. The XR representative leaves a good impression by answering in a very clear language, keeping in mind to come back to the 3 demands, listen carefully, never interrupt. Since he’s a former police officer, it explains his awareness, when he is in the show’s environment. His way of speaking feels confident, clear, straight to the point, plus he manages to over-come provocative comments about the movement. He seems to be aware of what kind of audience is watching him and how to appeal to them. He wears a badge of XR, and so do other representatives on more shows alike.

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[88]October Uprising, London. Red Rebellion performance in front of Congress protesting against the police decision to ban all XR protest in London. This was ruled by high court to be an illegal move by the police after the protests were over.



A new era, a fresh paradigm, only dark in its first appearance. Definitely not glamorous or famous era. A time defined by what's left to try, what are our the least worst options. Though some things won't change: clouds will stay beautiful; humans will seek for company; memories will let us see new visions; water will purify; the sun will start the day; the moon will cover the night.

Hyperdisaster, just like hyperobjects, is only relevant to humans. It's a way to look at global warming; at the changing human behavior due to it. It's the motivations and salvations that we find ourselves in, when faced with such tragic calculations. It's our ability to change, correlated with our need to deny. It's an abstract entity that brings people together for festivity, as comprehension of the hyperdisaster is broadening. We are all on this planet and only by placing our perspectives far away enough, we can see or even feel the way we have no control over what's happening in the accident called Earth. The world — abyss to us, but microscopically small to the scale of the universe. Still we strive to wake up and struggle for another day, in search for another way. Whichever way we end up going, in the end it's only for sharing it with the ones you love. In that sense, hyperdisaster is a chance to exceed expectations, a chance to unite the world with all diversity accepted. Extinction Rebellion is just another name for taking that chance, yet so far it's the closest to succeeding today. By far XR is not perfect, but they managed to turn millions of citizens away from denial to this new path that no one knows where it's going. At the same time, civilisations standing still in a hyperdisaster is definitely not going to bring us much further. The science is clear, every year is vital, every bit counts, even if you feel you're alone in this fight. The fact is you're not alone and when a flood, drought, super-storm, or war will come to your door step, then you'll stand in a street with your neighbors there too, who you probably don't know, and ask if they need any help.



  1. 1. George Rodger, 1944

  2. 2. RTVE.es/AGENCIAS, 2019

  3. 3. TOMYRIS 4-EVER, 2019

  4. 4. Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, 2018

  5. 5. Marlowe Hood, 2018

  6. 6. Timothy Morton, 2011, "Hyperobjects" (pg. 87)

  7. 7. Nick Hanauer, 2019

  8. 8. Dr Peter Carter 2019

  9. 9. Author Unknown 1906

  10. 10. Author Unkown 1906

  11. 11. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 27)

  12. 12. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 31)

  13. 13. Author Unknown 1906

  14. 14. AP 2017

  15. 15. Gary Rivlin 2005

  16. 16. British Royal Library 2005

  17. 17. Bettmann 1917

  18. 18. Chip Young 1985

  19. 19. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 286)

  20. 20. Jeff Coltin 2001

  21. 21. Spike Lee 2005

  22. 22. Phil Penman 2001

  23. 23. CBS News 2011

  24. 24. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 194)

  25. 25. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 157)

  26. 26. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 127)

  27. 27. Author Unkown 2005

  28. 28. Michael Appleton 2005

  29. 29. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 127)

  30. 30. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 129)

  31. 31. Lee Clarke, 2005, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 129)

  32. 32. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 234)

  33. 33. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 235)

  34. 34. Gary Younge 2005

  35. 35. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 251)

  36. 36. Rebecca Solnit, 2008, “A paradise built in hell” (pg. 244)

  37. 37. Shaila Dewan 2006

  38. 38. Jennifer Caldwell 2005

  39. 39. AP 2005

  40. 40. bl.uk 1940

  41. 41. Royal British Library 1940

  42. 42. Robert Clark 2001

  43. 43. Carolyn Van Houten 2019

  44. 44. Max Roser 2019

  45. 45. Timothy Morton, 2011, "HyperObjects" (pg. 10)

  46. 46. The Wikimedia Foundation

  47. 47. The IPCC 2018

  48. 48. Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit 2019

  49. 49. Jem Bendell, 2018, "Deep Adaptation", (pg. 13.50)

  50. 50. Ed Hawkins 2017

  51. 51. Jack Nicholls 2019

  52. 52. Banksy 2019

  53. 53. Echohustler 2011

  54. 54. The Wikipedia 2019

  55. 55. ESP 2019

  56. 56. Extinction Rebellion

  57. 57. Tilius Sodeika, 2019, original

  58. 58. The Wikipedia 2019

  59. 59. Tilius Sodeika, 2019, original

  60. 60. @xramsterdam 2019

  61. 61. Tilius Sodeika, 2019, original

  62. 62. NOS 2019

  63. 63. NOS 2019

  64. 64. Extinction Rebellion 2019

  65. 65. Extinction Rebellion 2019

  66. 66. Paul Feldwick 2018

  67. 67. Instagram 2020

  68. 68-77. Instagram 2020

  69. 78-81. Instagram 2020

  70. 82. xr_youth 2019

  71. 83. Gideo Mendel 2011

  72. 84. Tilius Sodeika, 2019, original

  73. 85-87. Good Morning Britain 2019

  74. 88. Jack Nicholls 2019



  1. Writing & designing: Tilius Sodeika
  2. Mentor: Dirk Vis

  3. KABK 2019-2020
  4. Graphid Design Department
  5. Bachelor's Thesis

  6. Den Haag, NL

Thanks to my family and friends for support in this difficult journey. A hard topic to work with and it required to involve my whole life in. I want to note that in the end it's all good. The world may be going to be gone in 100 years, the most important thing to take away from this is: spend your time with the people you love, because they are the ones who bring the most meaning in your life. Peace, love and lets not loose the light.