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A camera against climate change. Art for Impact.

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Intalcon Foundation proudly presents the award-winning works of Yi Sun at its 1st Art for Impact exhibition. When you first see his images, you may be deeply impressed by its expressiveness and beauty. Only at second glance, however, does it become clear: what looks like an abstract painting is actually a photograph and at the same time a silent protest. Because in real, most images show the scars of our earth.

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. This exhibition exposes the hidden damage from high above planet earth on a scale seldom seen before, so that the viewer. This exhibition 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.

Bleeding Tears


This image is taken 4500 ft. over a tailing pond in Western Australia. Tailing ponds are the byproducts left over from mining and extracting resources from the oilsands or minerals. Some of these can be as big as hundreds of square kilometers. They contain toxic substances and heavy metals such as lead, copper and mercury, and have huge environmental impacts on the surrounding air, land, water, vegetation and wildlife. Breaches of these structures have already created some of the greatest environmental catastrophes.


2018 Earth Photo 2018, images permanently collected by the Royal Geographical Society and exhibited in the RGS headquarter in Kensington, London
2017 ND Awards (Neutral Density Photography Awards), winning ND Nature Photographer of the Year
2017 11th Annual PX3 Awards, first and second prize in Nature category
2017 International Landscape Photographer of the Year, included in the Top 101 photograph

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.

“The way that climate change is being reported has led to desensitization 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

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.



This Art for Impact exhibition includes Sun’s most pertinent studies of 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.

In August 2019, around 100 people including Iceland’s prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, has held a symbolic funeral ceremony at Okjökull glacier in Western Iceland which is the first glacier to completely disappear due to climate changes. They erected a metal plaque bearing the inscription “A letter to the future” and is intended to raise awareness about the global decline of glaciers and the effects of climate change.

“In the next 200 years, all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,” the plaque reads. It’s incredibly sad to read such a story, but unlike other stories, climate change affects every one of us and our future generations.

Increased CO2 and other greenhouse emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and mining industries ultimately cause the ice caps to meltdown at the Polar Regions as well as all the glaciers in our mountains. This image shows the direct consequences of melting glacial rivers. Imagine this happening at a global scale with so much water entering our sea the citizens of coastal and island regions such as Venice and Maldives will soon become climate refugees in the foreseeable future.


All life on Earth began in water. The cycle of water connects the ocean, land, and atmosphere together, and brings nutrients to the most basic organisms and in turn feed higher organisms such as us, human beings. I have always been fascinated to capture the beautiful abstractive pattern created by water flow. Due to the ever-changing fluid nature, water is also the perfect media for creating unique fine art. This is one of the ongoing series using water as a paintbrush to fantasize Mother Nature’s beauty.


2018 International Photography Awards (IPA), 1st places in Professional Nature Category
2019 Earth Photo 2019, images permanently collected by the Royal Geographical Society and exhibited in the RGS headquarter in Kensington, London

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.”


One of the long-term projects of Yi Sun is to document the impact of human influence on the natural environment. Like the rest of Spain, the region of Aragon has been suffering severe droughts for decades. This is often compared in parallel with the drought in California on the other side of the earth. Every year there is only a fraction of the water available for a "normal" growing season. Like in California, this drought often causes wild forest fires leading to further loss in the economy. Facing against this uphill battle, the resilient Spanish farmers have continued their struggle to survive. The striking and amazingly strange abstract patterns of farming fields are a reflection of the humankind’s impact on the earth.

In his body of 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.

This highly creative series, made over 10 years, is of real value in the environmental debate. Intalcon Foundation invites you to reflect on Yi Sun’s message.


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