The concept of fuzzy thinking, with its indefinite, vague, and intangible character, forms the basis of inspiration for this thesis, and was applied as a principle to the field of visual communication. This thesis concerns itself with pollution in various forms: air, land, and water pollution as well as the less obvious and disturbing forms thereof such as noise, visual, and information pollution. The objective of the respective research is to raise awareness and disseminate information by hypothesizing new and unusual visual paths suggested by this different way of approaching the topic.
I should like to make pollution visible and the theory of fuzzy logic seems to me to be suitable for this representation. In fact, fear, anguish, and uncertainty of the future are such fuzzy categories, because they are not clearly quantifiable feelings. In particular, fuzzy references the theory developed by Lofty Zadeh1
, who in the late 1970s explained, referring to the scientific and decision-making field, that fuzzy is something undefined, uncertain and halfway between two extremes. It contemplates the space of doubt and the indefinite. Therefore, there are several similarities between fuzzy thinking and pollution. The theory of fuzzy logic as well as pollution considers what is elusive, blurred and often invisible. An example is radioactive pollution; it exists, and we are affected by it, but we do not see it because it is dispersed in the atmosphere and has no clear boundaries. It is difficult to draw a clear line of separation between pollution and its absence, between the impure and the healthy, between degradation and growth, between the dark and the light. In my opinion, the accentuation of these hardly perceptible differences leaves space for creativity and for new areas of representation whose interpretation is free and open.
I should like to merge these two themes and render explicit the urgency and seriousness of the issue of pollution through fuzziness. Besides, although pollution is an increasingly discussed and sensitive issue, I believe it is closely linked to mystery and to those fields where science still has no certain answers and, in particular, lacks descriptions of possible scenarios. We are very much aware of different types of pollution as scientists hypothesize its consequences, but we are not yet completely affected by it. It is a constant and slow process, but for now remains somewhat invisible and hidden.
An epochal change in the Earth’s environment, climate, biology, and even geology itself is taking place. Scientists have called it the Anthropocene. As the name implies, it is “literally the age of new human, a term that recognizes the degree to which we are full actors in the natural systems of the planet”2
In this new, human-dominated era, we as humans are faced with new ethical, political, and social responsibilities, but we also have the extraordinary opportunity to be able to explore, understand, and shape it. I believe, as a communicator, that the task and responsibility of shedding light on and communicating current and impactful issues, such as pollution and other wounds to the Earth, are critical.
After a documentation on the theme of pollution in its many forms and a thorough research regarding artists who have focused on this theme, the experiments aim to address and explore the complexity of the pollution theme through a multimedia approach (photography, video, animation, typography, projection, installation, etc.).
The fuzziness manifested itself when my experiments became ambivalent and both ambiguous and undirected, therefore uncertain. For example, one type of direct method could be to manipulate the image to make it blurred, unsharp and, therefore, visually fuzzy. On the other hand, if I consider the metaphorical sense of the word fuzzy, it would mean experimenting with the accidental, the random and uncontrollable and, therefore, the uncertain. In this vein, multiple outcomes can be imagined.
Sometimes my images are rendered abstract to further allude to the fact that pollution is a very broad and intangible subject. It is not clear what kind of pollution I am presenting, but what is certain is that it is something destructive and harmful.
Interpretation is free, and fuzziness is a space that can be filled with different reflections and thoughts. This kind of approach becomes the trigger that unleashes and moves the curious thoughts of the audience, pushing them to reflect on a theme that is itself doubtful and mysterious.
I have tried to represent the fragility of the world we live in with unconventional methods and elaborate experiments. They are often striking for their aesthetics, but a moment later, when the dramatic nature of the theme is clear, they become irritating and disturbing. Beauty becomes provocative.
This thesis aims to provide the generalized feeling of unease, apprehension, and fear that pollution can cause in each of us with a graphic form. It is also an attempt to render even the most hidden forms of pollution visible.
B i o g r a p h y
Sabina Laner is a graphic designer from Italy. Everything about communication attracts her interest, as does the search for harmony and beauty. Therefore, after a classical high-school education, she followed her passion and acquired a Bachelor in Communication and Graphic Design at IUSVE in Venice. Before pursuing the MDes programme in Basel, she also worked as a graphic designer in Amsterdam.