Modern western society is increasingly surrounded by photographic imagery: in newspapers, billboards, magazines, TV and on-line. As a cartoonist I am reluctant to admit that cartoons are becoming rare. Photo-montage is a fascinating way to create illustrations using ‘real’ styles that are maybe more suited to the lazy modern eye. I really enjoy making photo-montages.
Here are some of my photos-montages:
‘Sophia caught speeding in Saudi Arabia’
A tongue-in-cheek photo-montage to accompany witty and informative the End-of-Year commentary from the clever folks at ETC Group. It plays with the bizarre visit to Saudi Arabia of Sophia, the wordl’s most advanced AI-enabled robot. Here is the related section of the commentary from “2017: The Year of Bits, Bots and Blockchains – ETC Group’s Irreverent Year in Review“:
As Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and the usual lineup of luminaries reissued their perennial warning about Artificial Intelligence, for ETC Group a jaw drop moment of 2017 was October 11th when the AI-enabled humanoid robot Sophia was given a platform to address the United Nations in New York (something Civil Society Organizations and social movements are rarely afforded) and then engaged uncannily in policy banter with UN Deputy Secretary Amina Mohammed.
The jaw-dropping-even-lower moment came only a few weeks later when Saudi Arabia decided to award citizenship to Sophia – a basic right that many millions of human beings are routinely denied. Important questions of democratic theory aside, it’s not yet even clear how Saudi Arabia considers the gender of its newest robot citizen. Sophia was allowed to receive citizenship without the abaya, the required head covering for women. Is ‘robot’ then a new gender? It is illegal to be transgender in Saudi Arabia, but the country turns out to be cool with differently gendered robots. Can Sophia drive a car in Saudi Arabia? (Non-robot women can’t until June 2018.)
“Gold Force 1” – Climate geoengineering with Trump
An photo-montage to help promote the Big Bad Fix, the new report from ETC Group, co-written by BioFuelWatch (UK) and Heinrich Boell Foundation (Germany). The report explains the main technologies, the key players and the many reasons to resist such ‘global experimentation’. You can download the PDF of the report for free from the ETC group website, here.
A simple 2017 photo-montage (or meme or web-graphic) for Oxford Friends of the Earth, used in an online campaign to call for more action in Oxford against car pollution. Oxford City Council recently decided to work with OxFOE on a new information campaign aimed at persuading motorists to reduce “idling” their cars, especially near to schools.
Outsmarting Nature – Synthetic Biology and ‘climate-smart’ argiculture
A photo-montage for the covers of the 2015 report from the tireless ETC Group. This report “Outsmarting Nature? Synthetic Biology and Climate Smart Agriculture” explores the efforts of several large biotech corporations to develop “Climate smart agriculture”. Download the full report here. This report was produced in collaboration with the Heinrich Boell foundation.
“Many of the world’s largest agro-industrial corporations are pushing forward the poorly-defined idea of “Climate-Smart Agriculture”(CSA) to re-market industrial agriculture as ‘climate-ready’. This report uncovers how some advocates of CSA are embracing the extreme genetic engineering tools of synthetic biology (“Syn Bio”) to develop a set of false solutions to the climate crisis.”
I was thrilled when I heard about this project, and delighted to help by designing this A5 booklet. Above is the covers spread of the 28-page pocket-size booklet that lists nearly 100 local food suppliers near Oxford. It’s a great little booklet – perfect for the considerate shopper who wants to reduce the carbon-footprint of their food shopping. A small print-run was just completed to assess interest and get feedback. We hope to shortly print over a thousand, and sell them through various shops, groups and CAGs. The key data from the booklet was researched and collected by Benedict Vanheems and is summarised on the LCON website here: Oxford Local Food Suppliers. Each entry is listed with the distance from Oxford so the booklet is also a great resource for hungry cyclists – I plan to visit many of these farm shops and orchards over the next few months using this guide to plan my journeys.
Like most years, I failed to make a “Chirstmas Card” image in 2014, but I did think, what would I most like in the new year… and I thought of this! Partly inspired by the remarkable Arrest Blair website that keeps the idea of justice for Blair alive.
“Who would have thought that so many people were…
in the wrong place?”
A simple 2014 photo-montage to help illustrate a wonderfully apt idea from the late Dr. David Fleming. This idea has been bubbling in my head for months, after Chris Vernon mentioned the quote in a blog post on the high-speed rail project HS2. Recently I’ve been a passenger in several vans, for work and other ‘useful’ projects, and was reminded that so much of what we do is dependant on fossil-fuelled vehicles. I use bikes, bike-trailers and trains wherever possible but they are not always an option.
Photo-montage from 2014 for the folks at BASIC (British American Security Information Council) who are trying to move the world’s nine nuclear-armed states away from such dangerous tools.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the so-called royal family became a little more useful? Here is a dark imagined example, made in 2012 and updated in July 2013. Heathrow airport will be a farm again. Windsor Castle might become an ‘Oil-bubble’ museum showcasing the ways modern man wasted most of the world’s fossil-fuels.
Spoof postcard from 2013 poking fun at the recent plan by the UK chancellor George Osborne to pay a Chinese Corporation to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The deal may involve a 35-year price promise where British taxpayers are forced to pay for electricity at over twice the current price of power! The PR companies hired by the Nuclear industry are strongly pushing the “low-carbon” angle which is quite misleading. A lot of emissions come from building the huge concrete buildings that house the Nuclear reactors. And lots more emissions are released in the mining, processing and transport of the uranium. Globally, uranium supply is only about 60% of demand, and future stocks will be harder to extract, so now is not a good time to start building new nuclear power stations. Nuclear power is also very expensive to set up – depriving much needed funds from efficiency efforts and renewables. Building a nuclear power station takes over a decade – we need to replace fossil-fueled power sooner than that. But the main reason to avoid new nuclear is just how unsafe it is! Fukushima proved this: if a country as careful and well-organised as Japan can have such a terrible series of disasters at Fukushima we should stay clear of this dangerous technology. For more information please see Stop Hinkley and Greenpeace International. The new Zero-Carbon Britain report is also a great source of information and it shows how we can build a fossil-free economy WITHOUT nuclear power by 2030.
Photographic illustration for the ETC group whose identity used to be encapsulated as the “Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration”. Originally made in the early 2000s but re-created in full-colour in 2012.
Subverted logo of the 2012 London Olympics, based on a similar illustration I made for the 2008 Vancouver Olympics.
Photo-montage (above) for a great campaign called ‘No women – No peace‘. I’m not sure that this is a good title for a campaign as it does not clearly explain itself, in my humble opinion. My housemate told me about a competition that was being run by a coalition of of feminist groups, to highlight the need to include women in peace negociations in regions of conflict. Many such negociations ignore women entirely. I did not win the competition, which is probably a good thing, because, at the award event the winner was asked to shake hands with some minister of ignoring women’s issues. Yikes. 😉
Poster (and flyer front) for the dedicated folks at CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) from 2010, for a campaign to encourgae universities and colleges to cut all ties to the UK’s leading arms manufacturer, BAE.
Christmas card using a bit of humour to explore the way climate change will lead to increased numbers of refugees. I heard recently that India is building a huge fence to keep out the expected climate refugees from Bangladesh.
Photo-montage for Airport Watch UK’s 2009 report “Reduce Air Freight”.
T-shirt and poster design for the ETC Group to announce the winner of their 2009 Geoengineering competition.
Two simple ‘image-jams’ for a friend who was doing a presentation on biofuels as part of her 2009 MSc in “Sustainable Devlopment”. Biofuels are causing huge problems in many parts of the world, where jungles are destroyed and replaced with palm oil plantations to make more bio-fuels. This is sold to rich countries to put in cars. This often destroys natural habitats for wild animals including the orangutang. It also forces local people off lands they have lived on for centuries. The tragic irony is, in the rich countries, people are using biofuels thinking this is a good thing! SOME biofuel can be a good thing, like using spent vegetable oil from local restaurants. But replacing food crops with fuel crops is not wise in a world where a billion people are already hungry.
For more information on biofuels please visit the Biofuelswatch website.
Photo-montage from 2009 showing the PM of Canada, Stephen Harper as a mounty riding an ostrih, whose head is stuck in the tarsands.
Simple photo-combination from 2009 showing the famous ‘Little Mermaid” statue on the harbour of Copenhagen. The image was used by the Canadian political blog rabble.ca as part of their reporting on the dissappointing Climate Conference in Copenhagen that December. Ironically the chimneys in the distance are a coal-fired power station that are in the actual photo of the mermaid. I just added the waves and story skies as a comment on increased storms and rising sea-levels that climate chaos is bringing.
A ‘local’ job for me from 2009 – making a photo-montage to show how a nearby neighbour (Blackbird Leys) might look in a flash flood. The image was used in this poster to invite folks to join in a discussion about the feelings of the community on climate issues.
Spoof poster to promote the performance of Oedipus by the National Theatre, that was sponsored by Shell, in 2008. Art not Oil used this as a poster and postcard in their campaign to expose and ridicule this perverse sponsorship deal. Huge earth-raping corporations like Shell often ‘sponsor’ art and cultural events to try to buy some credibility and at least appear ‘civilised’ and acceptable.
Photo-montage for the Camp for Climate Action, showing the link between oil and war and climate change. The 2008 postcard version asked the question “How many dead to the gallon?”
Spoof advert for double-glazing made in 2007 to promote Rising tide and a few other trail-blazing climate activist groups.
A very complex poster from 2004 combining many photos for the ETC Group warning of the “Little B.A.N.G” convergence, led by arch-rightwing-nut Newt Gingrich. My favourite bit is the eagle on the podium wearing a white hood to appear as a bald-eagle – an idea that has popped up a few times in my work.
One of the first photo-montage I made, back in 1999. This was used as a cover for the 9th Corporate Watch (UK) magazine. The background shows a bleak post-apocalyptic scene of a tropical London. The broken statue is of Mark Moody-Stuart, former chairman of Shell, and spin-master for various quangos and agencies promoting various business-friendly forms of “sustainable development”. The quote on the statue’s base is from Percy Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias‘.