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  • Gabriela Hamm

Civilization mountain project

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

Artist: Tom Rossiter


Civilization Mountain

A yearlong photographic/video meditation on

8 Billion people on the planet

Tom Rossiter 2020

“I drink my tea; I drink my cloud” Thich Nhat Hanh says. He explains if you look deeply at a cup of tea you can see the whole universe including the clouds, the rain, the soil and much hard work.

The Civilization Mountain meditation is a deep photographic look at one city, Chicago, as representative of major cities globally, considered in relation to the air, water, and the earth that it touches. Photographed as so many have captured mountain ranges or vast forests. But this is manmade, as are most of the threats facing not only our civilization but our very planet. Scientists have discussed naming this post-Holocene epoch, the Anthropocene era. This would signify that for the first time in the earth’s history man has inalterably impacted our planet’s geology.

Civilization Mountain looks at the city every day of 2020, a year of pandemic. A year the streets were emptied. Air travel almost stopped. Lights in the buildings darkened. Forests burned, its smoke shrouding this city in a strange orange haze. Water levels rising. Temporarily, noticeably cleaner air. There has been an enormous human loss of life and civil unrest. Yet there has been wonder in the sky. The appearance of the Neowise Comet. Numerous meteor showers. A full solar eclipse and Jupiter and Saturn aligned as the Christmas Star.

Each day is represented by a single sunrise image` and a sunset image that is reflected vertically and precisely aligned. Acting as a metronome for the passage of time, each month the full moon night, and dawn are captured. The city and sky occasionally dissolve into water, fire, stone, people, traffic, viruses, and the milky way, illustrating the impacts of the way we live on the planet.

Still images reveal individual days as video combines them into a moving painting illustrating the passage of time. The sun and the moon, moving north to south and back again as the earth rotates, depicting the seasons in a silent, endless loop.

While critical action is necessary to address environmental change, the purpose of Civilization Mountain is to explore the interdependence of cities, people, cultures, and wild places. To bring awareness to the relationship of all the elements on, in, and around the planet.

It is meant to inspire reflection, thought and ultimately action.

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