The Subtle Daily Cost of Climate Change

Fascinated by the wonders and intricacies of the natural world, Jake Price has made it his mission to document and collect his personal impressions of the daily symptoms of climate change.

© Jake Price, from the series, Everyday Climate Change

After the tsunami hit the coast of Fukushima, in Japan, Jake Price travelled on and off to the devastated site and its surroundings, witnessing the damages and slow take-over by nature of a defuncted man-made landscape. He was there, too, when hurricane Sandy battered the streets of his hometown, New York City. “I was hearing all the news about how bad things were and I could see neighbourhoods that I knew under water and thought it was serious. In the meantime, I started to read reports on nuclear facilities shutting down in New Jersey and thought that there were a lot of similarities between Japan and New York”, Price remembers.

“We are really living in the time of climate change, but the aftermath of the tsunami and sandy changed my perception of the environment. What’s bizarre is that 15 minutes away from where I live in Brooklyn, I can find in Staten Island a place that has been totally wiped out and looks exactly like towns I know in Japan - I was amazed to see it in NYC. My work then became a lot more focused on everyday changes, like flowers blooming in the winter.”

© Jake Price, from the series, Everyday Climate Change

He started collecting his personal impressions of daily symptoms of climate change, and soon combined his visual documentation with short texts, hand-written on the photographs. “Staten Island post-Sandy. Once a neighborhood this now a wetland”, reads a red felt pen script on top of a dirt road crossing reed fields. A direct expression of memories and feelings, the written component adds a moving intimacy. “Empire, LA. Land used to be here and children would go to summer camp on the now submerged island”, reads another one.

Shot with his iPhone, the photographs emphasise the daily aspect of changes, while intensifying stormy skies. “I am not seeking these stories out - I don’t go off for them, I just look at the world with what’s in my pocket. Sometimes it’s from my apartment window. The birds for example, those who come and stay only during the spring and stayed much longer this year”, Price recounts.

© Jake Price, from the series, Everyday Climate Change

The ordinariness of the scenes that he shoots contrasts with their poetry, composing an ode to our living environment that he develops on a wider scale, including culture. “I am interested in islands that may no longer exist in our lifetime and I am looking at languages and cultures that our planet is going to lose. These societies have a lot of knowledge about the way nature works, and it’s embedded in their songs and arts. I want to find these people and listen to what they know”, he teases. For now, we have his ongoing daily diary of climate change.

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Jake Price is a documentary photographer and filmmaker exploring the connections between land and culture, science and community. Follow him on Instagram.

Laurence Cornet is a writer and curator based in Brooklyn focusing on cultural and environmental issues.

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Getting Closer presents photographic works, mainly in a documentary vein, that speak about the causes and consequences of environmental degradation.

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