JUSTIN BRICE GUARIGLIA
American, b. 1974
We Are the Asteroid, 2018
Solar-powered LED highway message sign, gilded with 24K gold
Text: Timothy Morton, 2018
15 ft. 6 in. x 11 ft. 6 in. x 13 ft. 3 in. (472.4 x 350.5 x 403.9 cm)
Courtesy the artist
Justin Brice Guariglia’s We Are the Asteroid employs a highway message sign to bring attention to how anthropocentric, or human-centered, attitudes have allowed for unsustainable systems that contribute to climate change. The artist generated the slogan for this work with eco-critic and professor Timothy Morton. Guariglia’s sign both warns of the destructive behaviors that have caused environmental degradation in the contemporary era and reminds the viewer that human beings are part of a larger ecosystem—even the universe.
These four panels by Justin Brice Guariglia show a landscape altered by human activity. As an embedded artist working alongside glaciologists and NASA scientists in Greenland, Guariglia photographed ice sheets from an aerial perspective while aboard a plane collecting data on climate trends. The artist’s interest in how these photographs emphasized the scale at which climate change has impacted that landscape prompted him to begin photographing mining and agricultural operations from a similar vantage point, as in the works shown here. Using large-format printing technology, Guariglia reproduces these aerial photographs in materials that speak to their subject matter—gold, copper, and silver—then manipulates the surface of the panel by hand. The result is an abstracted portrait of the human impact on the earth’s surface made both visual and material.