Essay Ethics of Climate Aesthetics by Paolo Cirio. 2023
Press material
- Press kit of the artworks

Related shows

- Climate Mismatch, Venice, 2023
- Natural Sovereignty, Capri, 2021

Related artworks

- Climate Tribunal
- Climate Class Action
- Climate Evidence
- Climate Culpable
- Extinction Claims

Related texts
- Climate Aesthetics, artist's essay, 2023
- Climate Mismatch, artist's text, 2023
- Climate Class Action, artist's text, 2023
- Flooding NYC Claims, artist's text, 2023
- Climate Tribunal, artist's text, 2021
- Natural Sovereignty, artist's text, 2021
- Extinction Claims, artist's text, 2021
- Regulatory Art, manifesto artist's text, 2019
- Climate Change Fighters, artist's text, 2010

Subscribe to the Newsletter
To receive the newsletter, please fill out the below form to subscribe to it:
Your Email
Recent news
- Residency for Lethica Institute at Strasbourg University with Climate Aesthetics
From Dec 17th

- Talk for the OSINT Festival at the Gaite Lyrique in Paris with Information Ethics
From Dec 14th

- Keynote Art Surveils at Universite Paris Pantheon-Assas with Information Ethics
From Dec 8th

- Exhibition with NOME Gallery at Paris Photo fair in Paris with Internet Photography
From Nov 9th

- Exhibition with Persano Gallery at Artissima in Turin with Alps Glaciers Memorial
From Nov 2nd

- Talk at Philanthropy EcoArts Nexus for Philea in Venice with Climate Aesthetics
From Oct 20th

- Keynote on Hacktivism at John Cabot University in Rome with Information Ethics
From Oct 19th

- Exhibition Who Owns The Economy in Den Bosch Netherlands with Extinction Claims
From Oct 5th

» Archive Events or from Twitter
Outlining a climate aesthetics serves the creation and critique of art on climate change by examining the ethics of such an aesthetics.

Climate aesthetics reflects on the conditions, knowledge, and ethics brought by climate change, focusing on social systems rather than physical systems. A critical approach is essential to assess art on climate change and acknowledge that aesthetics is a social construct that evolves alongside the development of human conscience in the context of a historical momentum.

Climate change evolves the ethics of politics, economics, and culture from both a collective and personal perspective in everyday life. Consequently ethics are central to climate aesthetics, regarding the questions of ethics of representation and intention of a works of art in respect to its audience, and include the questions on ethics of modes of production, ethics of funding, and ethics of the outcomes. The ethics of climate aesthetics can be seen as an evolution of the concepts of justice and truth, conscience and knowledge in the arts. This expansion of ethics in aesthetics and global society signals a new form of humanism based on global consciousness of the interconnectedness of planetary forces and vulnerabilities.

The ethics of climate aesthetics can be considered in any artistic strategy such as figuration or abstraction, pop or conceptual art, fiction or realism, and in any mediums such photography, performance, and fine arts. It is not a matter of style or genre, rather climate aesthetics looks at the ethics of the quality, consistency, and relevance of the social, scientific, and philosophical discourse surrounding the subject of climate change. Even if climate aesthetics falls mostly into the category of realism, artists also approach the representation of subjects on climate change through speculative scenarios, expanding them through fiction, yet all possible narratives of climate aesthetics are based on scientific facts, disguising or altering them for works of art is a already a fundamental ethical issue.

Social, economic, and political realism is the focus of this aesthetics and scientific realism is its ground. Scientific truth in climate aesthetics connects social realities with “the aesthetic practice of realism” Similarly, the notion of “evidentiary realism” is relevant for climate aesthetics and its relation to the documentary approach, however the inclusion of scientific, economic, or social evidence can be research material and not necessarily shown in the works of art. In climate aesthetics, realism mostly deals with the relationship between society and science, specifically on the science of the whole planet system, an interrelated network of physical forces and reactions on a global scale.

Causes and effects of global warming are at the core of climate aesthetics, which distinguish it from other forms of art about the science of natural subsystems, environments, and materials. Climate aesthetics doesn’t relate directly to the notion of environmentalism and sustainability. It’s needed to distinguish climate aesthetics from artistic practices generally related to nature to provide a set of analytical tools for the making and analysis of works of art specifically addressing climate change, which ultimately also develop the wider field of art and ecology.

Starting from the science of global warming as fundamental to climate aesthetics, an intrinsic and consequential character of this aesthetics is the accounting of the scale of such global phenomena. The dimensions of climate change reach an exceptional geographical and temporal scale as well as economic, political, and social scale. Simultaneously, such extensive scales also snap back to the narrow scope of hyperlocal ecological and social crises that occur rapidly. Yet the scale of the causes remains vast, and so the aesthetic representations, significations, and discourses need to take in account the scale of comparable phenomena and relate the scale of social, economic, political, and personal consequences. Climate aesthetics looks only at causes and effects of global warming and thus origins and consequences of greenhouse emissions, which are produced globally over decades, not only from individual sources, locations, and over short timelines. This is how the aspect of scale is a fundamental dimension in defining climate aesthetics.

Such an overwhelming scale of the causes and effects of climate change challenges human cognition and perception. Even if the scientific and technological tools might be able to picture and predict climate change, human emotional capacity and ethical complexity, as well as, the current political-economical and philosophical frameworks cannot process such change. Human emotions, thoughts, and ethics around climate change can be formed not only with analytical science, but rather through culture that enhances perception and receptions of such an epochal human transition. Art can play a key role in providing the ability of seeing, feeling, and comprehending the scale of climate change.

Particular use of semiotics and linguistics in climate aesthetics can make the perception and cognition of climate change accessible through emotional, compelling, and appealing works of art. Rather than rhetorical devices to represent climate change with an absent referent, vague, or false, in climate aesthetics perception can be enhanced with effective semiotic devices and languages. The accurate use of signs and significations in climate aesthetics refer to the ethics of representation and intentions of the works of arts.

The scale of ethical considerations integrated in climate change makes ethics a central part in climate aesthetics. The ethics of representation, production, and outcomes of works of art are often related to the ethics of individual causes and not to the accountability of governments and corporate misinformation, deregulation, and the actual production of greenhouse emissions. From the complexity of these ethics new morals emerge, which tend to confuse or even intentionally shift perception, thus making the use of the ethics of climate change an ethical issue.

The difference between ethics and morality in the discourse of climate change can be helpful to break down the use of ethics for shaming, de-responsibilizing, or instilling paralyzing guilt. Morals around climate change form mostly by inflicting on individuals the responsibility for causing climate change or by focusing on individual causes of greenhouse emissions. Such morals are then internalized by citizens and amplified by the business world that instrumentalizes them to shift responsibility, or to promote an alternative sellable lifestyle. Instead of fixative morals, the science of ethics can offer more sophisticated and accurate instruments for analyzing and comparing ethics in climate change within its scale of causes and effects from a political, legal, economic, and social perspective.

The aesthetics of the climate needs to overcome oversimplification, embracing the complexity of multilayered systems around climate change, and how its social, economic, and intimate realities are created and perceived.

By Paolo Cirio.


Climate Realism by Marija Cetinić, Lynn Badia, Jeff Diamanti, 2020.
“Realism is in the intermediated space of representations where the arts, humanities, and sciences collaborate on the ongoing challenge to detail climate’s history, as well as its present and future truths.”

Evidentiary Realism by Paolo Cirio, 2017.
“Realism in art returns through intersecting documentary, forensic, and investigative practices that contemporary realist artists utilize to bring to light the unseeable beneath the formation of our society.”

home | cv & bio | works | archive works | press | archive press | events | contact | top