Issue 2: Making Conversation

Unnatural Distinction

This essay explores the decline of ecosystems in the post-human era, outlines the author’s artistic practice during the MA, accessing digital technology to create a series of scenic fragments about ecological crisis.

The ecological crisis spawned by capitalism

The term “ecological crisis” describes the serious damage to the environment and the threat it poses to human survival and development. It is the pernicious result of ecological imbalance, stemming mainly from excessive and uncontrolled human production activities. Since the 20th century, as the scale and intensity of human intervention in the natural world have expanded and deepened, problems such as water pollution, land desertification, and climate anomalies have ensued.

“Ecology and capitalism are two spheres in opposition to each other, and this opposition is expressed not in each instance but as a whole in the interplay between the two. “

John Bellamy Foster(2002) Ecology Against Capitalism, Monthly Review Press

In the field of art creation, an increasing number of artists are incorporating environmental protection into their works. This is mainly manifested in the choice of material medium and the concepts conveyed by the works.

In Alex Hartley’s Nowhere Island project, the artist discovered his island east of Greenland during an expedition to the Arctic in 2004. As a result of climate change, the island has been exposed by melting glaciers in the past. So Alex initiated the project to move the island into international waters and declare it a new country. This is a way of calling for more people to become legal citizens of the island and, through such a migration, to draw more attention to the issues of global warming and the use of the planet’s remaining natural resources.

Alex Hartley, Nowhere Island(2012)

Compare this to Neville Gabie’s project A Weight of Ice carried from the North for You, which uses solar technology to transport and relocate icebergs from Greenland to Tatton Park. To improve insulation, the artist has chosen to clad all four sides of the glass installation in timber and to use 12 photovoltaic panels to support the propane condenser and fan. The preservation of a particular iceberg from a distant glacial zone with the aid of modern technology is a sideways reflection on the duplicity of modern technology and the ecological downsides of capitalist manipulation.

Neville Gabie, 
A Weight of Ice carried from the North for You (2010)

Sun[set] provisioning is a digital installation in which Pattison uses a monitoring system called uRadMonitor to gather real-time information about the environment and its state. By detecting pollutants in the air, the values translated by the server are used to render and form a sunset that changes in real time. Depending on the increasing level of pollution, the more vivid and spectacular the view becomes. A psychedelic, toxin-filled, unnatural sunset that is close to the real world is the visual impression I get from the installation, and Pattison’s focus on the impacts of climate and environmental change around us as a result of contemporary human activity is a reflection of his questioning of contemporary corporate disinformation and climate change denial.

Yuri Pattison, sun[set] provisioning(2019)

The ecological crisis seems to herald a conflict between man and nature, with the latter failing to provide a favorable habitat for the former. In essence, however, the ecological crisis reflects the mutual contradictions among human beings. Ecological crises ensue when the inherent balance and cycles of natural resources and the environment are not maintained.

Reflection on my artworks

In my MA phase of creative practice, I approached digital technology to create a series of 3D animations. At the centre of the work is an exploration of the dangers and impacts of the modern environmental crisis on the post-human era. In my recent work, I investigated the phenomenon of glacier collapse and melting in Chile to reveal that contemporary technology, while serving mankind, is slowly affecting the environment and climate, triggering an ecological crisis. I also hypothesise about the entropy increase and entropy decrease, which are closely related to heat.

“The higher the development of mankind, the less it is able to reach a higher order.”

Friedrich,N(1997) Daybreak, Cambridge University Press

Modern technology has improved our lives, and man-made cooling and heating systems continue to create a gentler and more pleasant living environment. However, these regulatory technologies are constantly drawing energy from the planet, and the planet’s operating system is out of balance, leading to all kinds of meteorological disasters, such as global warming, which is one of the problems that mankind has to face in the 21st century.

From the viewpoint of entropy, the melting of glaciers absorbs the energy of entropy increase, thus disturbing the original order of the glacial zone. Modern technology, on the other hand, provides a convenient and comfortable environment for human beings by regulating the appropriate temperature, which produces a series of physiological and psychological effects and creates more positive energy (spiritual negentropy) for our spiritual life. However, when these technologies provide negative entropy energy, they also inevitably promote entropy increase.

My work Unnatural Distinction is based on this event as a motivation. Unnatural Extinction is inspired by the melting of the Grey Glacier in Chile in recent decades. It explores the occurrence of certain natural disasters due to contemporary human activities, which in turn inspired me to think about the environment in the post-human era. I created the same digital process with the power of 3D modelling, by computer simulating fragments of scenes where icebergs are affected by the warming climate, and capturing the moment of their collapse through digital lenses, to the digital image of the last piece of ice disappearing from the earth. And vice versa, shaping the scene of white ice crystals growing back on the black rock, to restore the initial part of the natural environment, growth, representing the beginning of life, light and continuity.

Weiqi Sun, Unnatural Extinction, 3D animation, variable size

Above the sea, there is an isolated massive rock. The ice crystals on it resemble plant seeds taking root on the bare surface, gradually spreading until they cover all frigid areas of the Earth.

Weiqi Sun, Unnatural Extinction, 3D animation, variable size

The motivation for Dark Skies is about the derivative thoughts I had when I was building a scene with a natural environment as the background model. People in modern society are accustomed to living, working and studying in an artificial society and city. For example, I have been immersed in the noisy, technologically modernised environment of the city for a long time, and I seldom have the opportunity to go to areas that are closer to nature to feel and explore. Therefore, I would like to start from the perspective of observing my own environment, focusing on a kind of urban pollution: through the construction of urban nightscape, reflecting on landscape lighting, that is, the coloured light pollution will bring what positive and negative impacts on human beings, on the environment.

Weiqi Sun, Dark Skies, 3D animation, variable size

A news article headlined ‘Like a sun on Earth’: Las Vegas warns if dazzling venue built in London’s East End states that the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has given the go-ahead for a massive new concert hall wrapped in 1 million light-emitting diodes to be built and located in Stratford.  A similar project will be built later with Las Vegas. The spherical building was opposed by local residents because of its overly bright glow.

It can be seen that colored light pollution has a great impact on the living environment of the residents, and it is also another kind of environmental problem caused by the background of capitalism. Its characteristics are as follows: after nightfall, some shopping malls, hotels, advertising lights, neon lights, strong beams of light straight into the sky, as if the day. This artificial formation of a large area of illuminated light sources leads to light pollution, that is, artificial daytime.

Can not be denied that urban night lighting can make the city landscape expression expand so that the city’s time and space are effectively extended. Colored light is also walking and driving safety at night, work and study, entertainment, and the positive impact on human activities. However, in opposition the lighting method is different and the size of the illuminance value directly affects visual clarity human recognition, and even human emotions. Its various hazards to the human spirit, health, and environment should not be underestimated.

I tried to reflect my feelings in the animation by arranging the position of the lamps to create a connection between the lights and the people when building the animated scenes. A large number of radial lights formed by digital lines are intertwined with each other, creating tension in the scene. While people enjoy the projection of coloured lights, the mist spreads and they gradually get lost and caught up in the non-stop rotating complex. I also set the frequency of the light beating to that of the human heart, reflecting the inseparable connection between human beings and city lights that I wanted to show. Combined with the dynamic nature of digital animation, I create virtual but seemingly real spaces that provoke the viewer to reflect on the nature of perceived reality.

My works mainly reflect infinite loops of growth and destruction, simulating my desire for time and reality to shift going backwards, jumping and repeating in endless disconcerting cycles.


At this stage, I consider the relationship between digital art in contemporary art creation and traditional visual art through my own practice.  Traditional visual art normally comprises physical objects that are perceptible. Digital art, on the other hand, can be reproduced indefinitely, and the creation of art involves the perfect combination of technology and art. Thus, the innovation of media has expanded the diversity and flexibility of art, and has slowly removed the concept of traditional art and culture.

Personally, the shift from traditional visual art to digital media art has enhanced my creative and innovative thinking, offering fresh inspiration for future creative and presentational practice.


Alex, H Nowhere Island(2010). Available at:

Neville, G A Weight of Ice carried from the North for You(2010). Available at:

Yuri Pattison, sun[set] provisioning(2019). Available at

Weiqi Sun, Unnatural Distinction(2023), 3D animation, variable size

Weiqi Sun, Dark Skies(2023), 3D animation, variable size


John Bellamy Foster(2002) Ecology Against Capitalism, Monthly Review Press 

Bruce, W(2006) Art of the Digital Age, Thames&Hudson

Thomas, P(1957) Entropy, Troy Town: Trystero

Rudolf, A(1970) Entropy and Art: An Essay on Disorder and Order (Berkeley, California: University of California Press)

Erwin, S(1944) What is Life? Cambridge: University Press

Friedrich, N(1997) Daybreak, Cambridge University Press

Grey Glacier, Chile(2007) Available at:

‘Like a sun on Earth’: Las Vegas warning if dazzling venue built in London’s East End(2023) Available at:

 STEVENS, RICHARD G, BRAINARD(2012), Adverse Health Effects of Nighttime Lighting[J].American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 45 (3) :380.

 LONGCORET, RICH C.Reviews Ecological light pollution[J].Frotiers in Ecology & the Environment, 2004 (4) :191-198.

About the author

Weiqi Sun graduated from MA Fine Art: Drawing at Camberwell in 2023. She is a London-based artist working with 3D animation, painting and drawing.

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