The big three mobile providers in Canada recently revised their contractual terminology to better communicate with their customers. Easier to understand, and hopefully digest, it’s an initiative meant to speak more directly to people. Yasmin Parodi and her classmates in the Environmental Visual Communication program at Fleming College are aiming to do just that with their films, photography and mixed media. Their work is poised to emotionally tie readers and viewers to imagery that depicts a clear, honest rapport of the issues and debates surrounding environmentalism, conservation, and strategic messaging.
They say “pictures are worth a thousand words.” Meaning there are literally thousands of possible interpretations one could pull from a single image. The subjective nature of photography is brought to the forefront of the hues, grains or pixels. The photographer, a human being with an internal set of personal ethics and moral code has ultimately chosen what to point that piece of curved glass towards, and what we see is therefore a statement not always about the imagery depicted within the frame – but an opinion of the mind’s eye; what’s important, and what’s not. On the other side of the coin, are the things that haven’t been given their place in the spotlight. What lay behind the photographer? To their left, or right? A good photograph can’t just look pretty, it has a responsibility to ask questions.
We spoke to Yasmin about Ontario Power Generation’s proposed Deep Geological Repository project, which aims to bury low-to-intermediate level nuclear waste 400 metres from the shoreline of Lake Huron. “The power of image is priceless,” she says. “The goal of EVC is to interrupt the current environmental conversation in Canada and engage citizens in taking action on vital issues that affect everyone, like the safety of our water and the Great Lakes.” Yasmin recently gave a presentation during “Torrent 2013: [un] natural interruption” at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, focusing on the ways people are exposed to environmental issues. She says people need new ways to “connect to the land and to each other, to unify them and inspire them to make and demand sustainable choices, not scare them off. Although scientific facts undoubtedly play a role in protecting our ecosystems, EVC and our show Torrent is about making issues more accessible to the public through our work and engaging citizens in embracing positive solutions to current problems.”
Those “thousand words” we’ve all heard so much about – they’re ours. Images give us a chance to formulate our own opinions and be a part of the conversation; we need to get back into that chat – especially when the topic at hand has the potential to threaten nearly a quarter of the world’s fresh water supply.
“To get people to care about the danger in projects like the nuclear dump, it’s crucial to remember the power of images,” says Parodi. “Seeing with our own eyes grounds us and shows us that environmental issues affect everyone. To save the Great Lakes, we need to reach out to the public and captivate hearts.”