Heat Death

Ellie Larkin

Heat Death is a stop-motion animation set in the distant future where all that’s left of us is fossils. Some fossils are still repeating the same old mantras about climate change. The purpose of the film was to combine excuses for climate change denial along with the inevitable outcome of what will happen to humanity if we listen to them.

The work focuses on three audio quotes from Joni Ernst, James Inhofe and Ted Cruz taken from the senate floor and radio shows. To make the lip-sync I cast the twelve basic phonemes (mouth shapes) along with some exaggerated accent phonemes using alginate and plaster. From there I could embed them into a set and swap out the mouths as needed. The animation technique was a destructive process, for example in the acid rain scene, narrated by Joni Ernst, to make the teeth crumble over time I had to match the damage along the whole set of phonemes using scalpels and bleach.

Throughout my research into climate change denial I was most struck by a sense of hypocrisy. Although I am personally not religious, when I was young I was taught that humans had a role of stewardship over the Earth, and since God made “all creatures great and small” to look after nature was to be respectful to God. Throughout many avenues of politics when it comes to climate change, often those who present themselves as most pious are those who care about nature the least, and the first to be bought out by lobbyists. This has influenced me to approach my work as ecologically as possible, relying mostly on found materials and reducing my use of hazardous chemicals.

In the ending, a crab gets sick of listening to a fossil quoting Ted Cruz, and takes the mouth as a new shell, shutting him up in the process. This is drawn from the fact that our main issue in climate change is that it is ourselves we are damaging. Of course, we are causing extinction and damage to things besides us, but it is the survival of our own species we are ultimately jeopardising, and once humans are over with, nature will reclaim the Earth again.

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All images, video and work Copyright Ellie Larkin.