Pictur(e)ing Climate


Click here for the conference report (PDF-format, 03/21/2012)

19th/20th January 2012



Dr. Birgit Schneider, Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam

in conjunction with Dr. Thomas Nocke, Potsdam Insitute for Climate Impact Research

and the Potsdam Graduate School “Visualization and Visuality”

Funded by Fritz Thyssen Stiftung

For any questions and registration please contact birgit.schneider@uni-potsdam.de

Conference Location:

Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK)

Telegraphenberg A 31, 14473 Potsdam

(Building H, Room 19.1 & Building A 31, Cupola)

One of the key roles of scientific images involves the potential to visualize scientific objects; when considered in these terms, visualization is nothing less than a method for making the invisible visible. The status of climate visualization is particularly crucial, as they make entities visible which otherwise, as statistical items, could not become evident. This applies to images visualizing climate zones, temperatures, CO2-concentrations, climate history or future scenarios derived from climate models. Climate as an epistemic object is not something which is simply given; it has to be constructed and mediated. Hence pictur(e)ing climate and climate change is a fundamental step in knowledge production and an extraordinary cultural achievement.

However climate science is facing considerable pressure from different expectations: when expert graphics produced by climatologists started to gain currency in the field of policy  (as it became a key issue within risk society) they encountered different values and expectations. Scientific research on climate change induced a plethora of image production; images picturing climate range from colourful expert graphics, model visualizations, photographs of extreme weather events like floods, droughts or melting ice, symbols like polar bears, to moving and interactive visualizations; since the 1980s climate graphics have not only increased knowledge about the subject, they have also begun to influence popular awareness of weather events and the instability of landscape.

This workshop seeks to combine a wide interdisciplinary spectrum of perspectives and questions in order to discuss the very different strategies and imaginations that lie behind pictures on climate. In doing so, the visual part of the climate discourse can be critically analysed vis-a-vis politics, technology, science, media and society.

Participants & Program


Image Politics: Pictur(e)ing Climate – Visualizations, Imaginations, Documentations.