COP26: Sustainable Photography in an Unsustainable World?

A satellite photograph of the weather in Morocco, Spain, France and the Atlantic ocean

COP26: Sustainable Photography in an Unsustainable World?

Launching 1 November 2021

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) takes place in November 2021 in Glasgow, where approximately 196 countries will work on accelerating actions towards the Paris Agreement that aimed to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 °C. 

Coinciding with, and following on from the conference and as part of their 50th anniversary deep dives into the state of the medium, The Photographers’ Gallery’s Digital Programme has created a range of activities to challenge, educate, engage and inspire ways in which image-making might contribute towards a greener world. From a series of artist-made ‘how-to’ videos exploring sustainable photography practices, environmental storytelling, and collaborative satellite images of the planet, to online round table discussions, workshops, new commissions, and critical conversations addressing the human impact on our world. 

Launching on the 1 November, this timely programme presents a series of special events:


Open-weather is a feminist experiment in imaging and imagining the earth and its weather systems using DIY community tools. Co-led by researcher-designer Sophie Dyer and creative geographer Sasha Engelmann, open-weather encompasses a series of how-to guides, critical frameworks and public workshops on the reception of satellite images using free or inexpensive amateur radio technologies. 

When I image the earth, I imagine another
2 November 2021

What would it mean to collectively produce an ‘image’, and reimagine the planet? To see its details and patterns from multiple perspectives and many situated positions? If we could each take a photo of our home from space, could we build a patchwork, an impossible view, another whole earth?

On the first day of the COP26 climate conference, led by open-weather with Rectangle, a network of people operating DIY satellite ground stations around the world will capture a collective snapshot of the earth and its weather systems: a ‘nowcast’ for an undecided future. Tuning into transmissions from three orbiting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites, members of the network will collect imagery and submit field notes from their geographical locations. Combined, these contributions will generate a polyperspectival (from many angles) image of the earth.

‘When I image the earth, I imagine another’ is a collective image of the earth and its weather systems created during COP26 by a network of people operating DIY satellite ground stations around the world. 

This project has been commissioned in partnership with Tabakalera, Donostia - San Sebastián, Spain.


Screen walk with open-weather
3 November 2021, 18.00 GMT

Screen Walks is a new series of live-streamed artist and researcher-led explorations of online spaces and artistic strategies designed to illuminate a thriving – often overlooked – digital cultural scene.

Join open-weather and design studio Rectangle for an in-depth digital talk on the collective image of the earth: ‘When I image the earth, I imagine another’. The talk will explore the role of an artistic, feminist framework in co-producing a polyperspectival image of earth and offer insight into the technical and collaborative process behind the work.

Screen Walks is an online collaboration between The Photographers’ Gallery, UK and Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland.


Open-weather workshop
13 November 2021

An Open Weather workshop in which participants will explore feminist approaches for capturing and decoding satellite transmissions. Led by Sophie Dyer (researcher and designer) and Sasha Engelmann (creative geographer) from Open Weather, by the end of the workshop, each participant will have their own DIY satellite ground station to generate unique weather images from meteorological satellites.


Shadow Growth by

8 November 2021

How is the growth of a country calculated and represented? Launching on the 8th November 2021, Shadow Growth, a new commission by art & research collective, investigates how economic models and their visual (mis)representations are crafted and used to make sense of the world.

The collective, founded in 2012 by Nicolas Maigret and Maria Roszkowska, and joined by artist and philosopher Baruch Gottlieb in 2018, develop debates, performance, and speculation that provoke dominant techno-positivist ideologies in order to foster post-growth narrative. A central objective of the project is to engage with online interaction and advocate for climate activism by encouraging visitors to interact with speculative data models on social media and other public forum

In conjunction with the launch of their online commission and essay, will be taking over TPG’s Instagram, sharing key concepts, considerations, and research of their new project. An accompanying article written by focuses on the urgency and strategic value of producing and circulating alternative models (and modes of description) to reframe the links between “growth” and ecosystemic crisis.


Green Hacks

15 November – 27 December 2021

Throughout November and December, The Photographers’ Gallery will release a series of artist-made how-to videos unpacking practical tips to educate, inform and inspire their community: no promises, just actions! From environmental storytelling through images, no-waste camera repair and the use of photography to raise awareness, each short video offers a creative but concrete step, demonstrating how to produce/show/think about and make art in more sustainable ways. Small actions with significant impacts.

Artist videos have been commissioned and released in collaboration with Tabakalera, Donostia, San Sebastián, Spain.

Artist Talk: Tega Brain and Emilija Škarnulytė

10 November 2021

This panel discussion brings together artists Tega Brain and Emilija Škarnulytė to reflect on climate change. In respective projects like Asunder (2019) and Eternal Return (2021), the two artists use moving image, installation and digital technology to consider the current environmental condition. Featured here in this regard, they will consider the impact of photography and contemporary art -— not just in raising awareness of the issue but in creating meaningful connections to climate change and in triggering new imageries that can stir us into action. This discussion will be moderated by curator Marlies Wirth (MAK, Vienna, Austria).