July 30, 2020 - October 10, 2020
In VOID, I hand altered a Palm Beach County Atlas from 1998 to reflect the various possible climate change outcomes. The data came from three different online resources and the pages were altered using office supplies. The resulting pages were scanned and reconfigured back into a book and printed.
I created this work in 2017, two years after I returned to Palm Beach County (PBC) and my home state of Florida. This was also two years after Rick Scott allegedly created the unwritten rule that the phrase “climate change” could not be used by the state government and two years before he became a senator. It was during this time I found an old atlas of PBC at Resource Depot. Originally, I had planned to use it as fodder to extend work I had previously created on public land use by the US Military. As I flipped through the pages I was reminded of how our coastline naturally ebbs and flows. That prior to the Army Corp of Engineers activity in 1922 the Jupiter Inlet would regularly shift location. That Lake Okeechobee was sealed off from the Everglades in 1933 cutting the River of Grass off at the source. And that before there was Flager’s Palm Beach there was the Styx. How all these places had other names and uses prior to colonization by Europeans. Names that went from Jeanga to Hobe to Jobe to Jove to Jupiter.
Maps it would seem, especially in this man made ecosystem, are mutable. How then will our current activities affect the future of this place? Our interventions are not as visible as the creation of a stable inlet or the building of the third largest waterway. Gasses and microscopic debris floating around us in the air and water are our more insidious footprint.
I began to wonder what my role is in their creation and how I benefit from them?
Early on I began to realize that systemic change may begin with my second-hand water bottle and metal straw, but changing the 90 entities that have been attributed with creating 63% of carbon dioxide and methane between 1751 and 2010 will take larger measures. Using three different website sites I started to alter the pages using corporate and home office materials (white out, void and identity theft stamps) representing both the personal and corporate causes of climate change. At times I altered the pages with the wild dramatic abandon of a vengeful creator, flooding areas with 10 feet of water and drowning all. And then, I would shift to the data that brought out the best of myself and fellow humans illustrating the results of drastic carbon cuts. When the dust cleared and the white out dried I had created a new book reflecting 15 possible futures for PBC. It is my intention that the resulting work sparks others to research and question their role in their communities via man-made interventions, climate change and the displacement of people and wildlife bringing attention to the personal and political nature of the map.
 This fact, from Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions is not mentioned to absolve me, as I benefit from them. From my personal car to the container ship that brought me the computer I am typing these words on, I am complicit.
“Carbon Majors.” Climate Accountability Institute, 2017, climateaccountability.org/carbonmajors.html.
“Global Sea Level Rise Map.” Geology. Web. 23 June 2017
“History.” Jupiter Inlet District, 2018, jupiterinletdistrict.org/history/
“How Jupiter Got Its Name.” History Town of Jupiter, Jupiter History Web Committee, 3 Dec. 2012, www.jupiter.fl.us/DocumentCenter/View/297/How-Jupiter-Got-Its-Name?bidId=.
Hyman, Elliott. “Who's Really Responsible for Climate Change?” Harvard Political Review, 19 Apr. 2020, harvardpolitics.com/united-states/climate-change-responsibility/
Korten, Tristram. “In Florida, Officials Ban Term ‘Climate Change.’” Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, 8 Mar. 2015, fcir.org/2015/03/08/in-florida-officials-ban-term-climate-change/.
Lowery, Fred “Black History’s Roots Go Deep.” Sun, 3 Oct. 2018, www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1995-02-24-9502280164-story.html.
“NOAA Logo Sea Level Rise Viewer.” NOAA Web. 23 June 2017 www.coast.noaa.gov/slr/
Taylor, Matthew, and Jonathan Watts. “Revealed: the 20 Firms behind a Third of All Carbon Emissions.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 9 Oct. 2019, www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/09/revealed-20-firms-third-carbon-emissions.
“Surging Seas Sea Level Rise Analysis by Climate Central.” Surging Seas: Sea Level Rise Analysis by Climate Central. Web. 23 June 2017
View the entire book
About the Artist
Sarah K. Knudtson is a multidisciplinary artist. In her researched based practice she explores the idea of excess. She uses information culled from government, corporate and non-profit websites to begin journeys in which societal and personal responsibility begin to collapse. She documents these trips through the language of the tourist, creating photographs, souvenirs and journals. She holds both a BFA (Studio Art) and MFA (Art and Technology) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently lives in West Palm Beach, Florida with her partner Stephen Germana and their cats Roland & Meep. You can find her on the internet.