Climate change, biodiversity loss, and habitat destruction are certainly serious issues. Mainstream environmentalism in North America, a continent just beginning to more viscerally feel the effects of the environmental destruction caused by its inhabitants, tends to approach environmental issues through bleak messages of gloom and doom, unquestioned sincerity, and appeals to feelings of fear and hopelessness. But what happens if we attempt to address these challenges with wit, playfulness, and earnest attempts to take the ridiculous seriously? Rather than simply making light of the gravity of environmental destruction, this represents alternative ways of approaching the problems at hand. We suspect that greater change could be possible if ecocritical responses stop taking themselves so seriously, and that art and visual culture are especially well-positioned to do so. Building on the work of Nicole Seymour (Bad Environmentalism, 2018), Ursula K. Heise, and numerous artists, makers, and scholars who have already paved the way for this text, we want to expand the repertoire of examples in art and visual culture that use humor and embrace weirdness. This volume seeks to disrupt traditional forms of ecocriticism that only operate through tragedy and dire warnings, and instead bring together artists, art historians, and other scholars of visual culture who present creative, playful, and downright funny ways to rethink our relationship to the planet through contemporary art and visual culture.
We are currently in conversation with an open-access, peer-reviewed, digital scholarly press for this edited volume that challenges disciplinary silos. With our interests and the press’ specialization in digital content, this volume will be an ideal space for video, audio, and image-heavy pieces far richer than print-only could allow.