Yi Sun (b.1982) is a Chinese photographer and conservationist whose work discusses the global climate crisis and focuses primarily on areas of the world most adversely affected by extreme weather events and global warming. His work references humanity's over-use of the planet's natural resources, and exposes environmental damage caused by some of today's highest CO2 emitting western economies.
Sun's abstract colour photographs are all captured from the air by helicopter or small high-wing plane, which gives him the freedom to create works which are both beautiful and deeply unsettling, often juxtaposing earth's healing scars in close proximity to the vulnerable beauty of the landscape we now know is being lost.
Photographs such as Bleeding Tears Study 3, Perth, Western Australia 2017 bring into sharp focus the exact boundary line on the earth's surface where man-made environmental damage has breached the beauty of the natural landscape. Sun's Earth's Healing Scars series exposes the hidden damage from high above planet earth on a scale seldom seen before, so that the viewer is not immediately sure what they are looking at.
Sun's manipulation of scale produces arresting compositions with elements in the landscape deliberately made to look vulnerable, a balance he hopes will shock but ultimately inspire viewers to re-engage with their world, for example by lobbying governments to do more to regulate the mining industry, a message he conveys with the subtle inclusion of tiny industrial diggers on the earth's surface.
Sun has great sensitivity to rhythm, shape and colour. His photographer's eye selects with eagle precision aerial designs of man versus nature: abstract impressions of rarely seen perspectives of our changing planet. Poignant titles such as Earth's Bleeding Tears, where deep red veins pump into deeper purples are strangely beautiful yet show us the indelible marks left by humankind on the face of our planet. Sun's most pertinent studies capture meltwater from the Okjökull glacier in Iceland which has now completely disappeared as a result of climate change.
Sun still wishes to celebrate the raw beauty of the planet with bright, bold compositions and vivid colours, at times reminiscent of the abstract expressionist painters of the 1950s.
He invites us to actively engage with this pressing environmental debate:
"We now stand at a unique point in our planet's history where we share responsibility both for our present wellbeing and for the future of life on earth. We have time to turn everything around, to take action for our children and grandchildren." Yi Sun
In his work Sun is directly questioning our moral conscience and calling for us to become 'Global Citizens' - to think globally but to act locally. He wants us to focus on people in the developing world affected by global warming and extreme weather events, and to change our lifestyles so that collectively we can hit our target of reduced CO2 emissions.
"The way that climate change is being reported has led to desensitisation and inaction. Changing habits built up over a lifetime is very difficult but it can be done if we work together. My hope is for this new collection to be shown in galleries that will inspire real change within local communities." Yi Sun
This highly creative work, made over 10 years, is of real value in the environmental debate and we invite you to reflect on Yi Sun's message.
Luke Whitaker, 2020