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In Defence of Dismaland: The Value of Banksy's Dystopian Nightmare
Why Banksy's dystopian vision of the future might be the kind of shock we need to realize the problems humanity faces.
Banksy’s dystopian theme park hasn’t even been open a week, and already the critics have been out in force, pulling no punches, but missing the point in the process. Business Insider described it as “art about nothing.” According to the Evening Standard’s description, “it’s mostly selfie-friendly stuff” — which is only true if your idea of a good selfie is of yourself next to a graphic representation of human suffering. In fact, I barely found a single exhibit in the entire site that I felt realistically suitable to take a lighthearted selfie next to without immediately feeling like a despicable human being. Even The Guardian chimed in: "In reality the crazy fairgrounds and dance tents at rock festivals are far more subversive." The case against Dismaland was even made right here at Big Think where “outrage culture” received a slating.
None of this was in tune with the impression I walked away with, after exiting through the gift shop. A single overwhelming theme rang on in my mind on the ride home, and on into the night as I lay in bed, eyes shut, but wide awake, considering the imagery fused in my mind. Dismaland is a wasteland, a graphic and abrupt visual depiction of what we are already doing to our planet, and what might happen if we don’t collectively change our behaviour. You might think that there are better ways to go about this than shock and awe. I did once; after reviewing the research I’m no longer so sure.
Changing attitudes is a wicked problem that is not synonymous with correcting ignorance. Providing parents with information debunking vaccine myths can make them less likely to vaccinate their children. And 97 percent of scientists agree on the truth of global warming and this is “old news,” yet the size of the general population that refuses to believe in global warming is massive and pervades the political right.
A comfortable life and an insular social group with strong shared beliefs is a tough match for cold, hard evidence. Facts just aren't as seductive as a gas-guzzling 4x4, year-round air conditioning, and not having to worry about constraining your consumption and recycling your detritus.
The Guardian critique misses the point spectacularly, complaining about “a painting of a mother and child about to be overwhelmed by a tsunami.” According to The Guardian’s dismal analysis, "we are — apparently — meant to think it’s funny that the wave is about to kill these beachgoers." Their quote, not mine. No, of course you're not supposed to find it funny. You're supposed to finally recognise that if we don't respect this planet that we all share, our world will rapidly become unlivable for our children.
Despite warning after warning from scientists, we continue to ignore the threat of climate change and the damage we are otherwise doing to our planet. The UK, where the Dismaland exhibit is located, has been particularly regressive over the past year. Since the recent election, the British government has scrapped over half a dozen green policies. It is clear that evidence alone isn’t working to convince people; perhaps immersive evidence-inspired art will encourage minds to change, where evidence alone has failed.
Dismaland does not neglect facts; look hard enough, such as on a bus where the ominous destination is simply "Cruel" and you will find damning real-life quotes, graphs, diagrams, timelines, statistics, and artefacts, which you can consider as you wander on past the more metaphorical exhibits. You can even visit a library where you flick through the books that no doubt provided Banksy's inspiration.
The major criticism of the attraction has been that it breeds apathy and disengagement. On the contrary, I haven’t walked away from Dismaland feeling helpless and despondent. I’ve been left with a visceral rejection of apathy, the realisation that Dismaland isn’t a world I want to live in and that I need to do what I can to avoid this vision of the future. Look a little closer at the image below. In a stroke of what can only be described as artistic genius, Banksy has made every single employee of Dismaland a part of the art — no, the art itself. You don't want to be like one of these poor apathetic souls.
Even if the exhibition convinces just a few people to respect their planet and take a critical eye to the world around them, it will be worth its weight in gold. But perhaps Dismaland has the power to do more than that. Perhaps it will inspire people to alter their goals in life to actually change the world around them.
In a world where our top science graduates are regularly creamed off from our top universities to play the roulette wheel of high finance, the battle for hearts and minds to take ethical career paths lies with the next generation, who are certainly not left out at Dismaland. Kids can play crazy golf on a course of discarded oil drums and negotiate with pocket money loan sharks.
As for Business Insider's argument that the show is simply "bad," where else can you experience the illusion of zero gravity in a revolving caravan, before wandering beneath a giant oil tanker contorted high into the sky?
Often in life, it is experiences rather than words on a page or images on a screen that make us change our minds. I for one, hope this experience has an impact. Sometimes we humans need to reach rock bottom before we change our ways. Dismaland is rock bottom.
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Humans are particularly prone to shiver when a group does or thinks the same thing at the same time.
A few years ago, I proposed that the feeling of cold in one's spine, while for example watching a film or listening to music, corresponds to an event when our vital need for cognition is satisfied.
Certain colors are globally linked to certain feelings, the study reveals.
- Color psychology is often used in marketing to alter your perception of products and services.
- Various studies and experiments across multiple years have given us more insight into the link between personality and color.
- The results of a new study spanning 6 continents (30 nations) shows universal correlations between colors and emotions around the globe.
The root of color psychology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9e40cf62fa8922fcca6c57e2fcb215b6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OM4fXB23pCQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>There is a very likely chance you've even been "fooled" by color marketing in the past, or you've chosen one product over another subconsciously due to colors that were designed to influence your emotions.<br></p><p>Companies that want to be known for being dependable often use blue in their logos, for example (Dell, HP, IBM). Companies that want to be perceived as fun and exciting go for a splash of orange (Fanta, Nickelodeon, even Amazon). Green is associated with natural, peaceful emotions and is often used by companies like Whole Foods and Tropicana. </p><p><strong>Your favorite color says a lot about your personality. </strong></p><p>Various studies and experiments across multiple years (<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/49595886_Personality_Traits_and_Colour_Preferences" target="_blank">2010</a>, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jopy.12087" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2014</a>, <a href="http://oaji.net/articles/2015/1170-1448038739.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2015</a>, and more recently in <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824#modern-research-on-color-psychology" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019</a>) have given us more insight into the link between your personality and your favorite color.</p><p>Red, for example, is considered a bold color and is associated with feelings such as excitement, passion, anger, danger, energy, and love. The personality traits of this color might be someone who is bold, a little impulsive, and who loves adventure. </p><p>Orange, on the other hand, is considered representative of creativity, happiness, and freedom. The personality traits of this color can be fun, playful, cheerful, nurturing, and productive. Read more about color psychology and personalities <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/color-personality-psychology?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2" target="_self">here</a>.</p>
Study reveals which colors best suit which emotions around the globe<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDYzMTk5OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODc4OTg5OH0.bY-pu-MFNivdJLDJuBp9TBKrhwuy7hngUa1aIWxQMVw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C93%2C0%2C94&height=700" id="33fff" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1a5d7bb00dac94bd6201616789fb4882" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of color psychology how colors make us feel color emotions" />
Certain colors are globally ties to certain emotions, the study reveals.
Image by agsandrew on Shutterstock<p>In this particular survey, participants were asked to fill out an online questionnaire which involved assigning 20 emotions to 12 different color terms. They were also asked to specify the intensity with which they associated the color term with the emotion.</p><p><strong>Certain colors are globally linked to certain emotions, the study reveals.</strong></p><p>The results of this study showed a few definite correlations between colors and emotions throughout the globe. Red, for example, is the only color that is strongly associated with both negative (anger) and positive (love) feelings. Brown, on the other end of the spectrum, is the color that triggers the fewest emotions globally.<br></p><p>The color white is closely associated with sadness in China, while purple is what is closely associated with sadness in Greece. This can be traced back to the roots of each culture, with white being worn at funerals in China and dark purple being the Greek Orthodox Church's color of mourning. </p><p>Yellow is more associated with joy, specifically in countries that see less sunshine. Meanwhile, its association with joy is weaker in areas that have greater exposure to sunshine. </p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200910150247.htm" target="_blank">According to Dr. Oberfeld-Twistel</a>, it is difficult to say exactly what the causes for global similarities and differences are. "There is a range of possible influencing factors: language, culture, religion, climate, the history of human development, the human perceptual system."</p>