The Overview Effect

  • Jun Yi Low

The audio excerpt that frames this animation is from an RSA Events conversation about thinking long-term. It was introduced as follows: “What legacy do we want to leave for future generations? Philosopher Roman Krznaric urges us to think long-term and consider how to do the right thing for our descendants by living within our planetary bounds.” When researching for this project, I was most amazed when learning about The Overview Effect. It is defined as a cognitive shift in awareness and perception of Earth when viewing it from outer space. With this forming the basis of my response to this brief, my animation interweaves ideologies of long-term thinking with visualisations of shifting and broadening perspectives, encouraging us to see the bigger picture in relation to our ecological crisis.

Inspired by this phenomenon of changing perceptions, my frame-by-frame animation is stitched by transitions that are either zooming out or flipping perspectives to introduce new or different realities. To enrich the content rather than accompany it with obvious visual references, I included relevant topics addressed in Roman Krznaric’s book The Good Ancestor. These include Earth Overshoot Day, techno-escape, living at the speed of wood, how we can learn from nature, the scale of unborn generations we are ‘shooting’, and the ‘baton’ we are passing to these futureholders.
As part of this double project brief, I also created a concept book that outlines my design process and the ideas behind my animation. Further imitating the theme of seeing the bigger picture, it is an A1 zine that can be accordion-folded into A5 pages. Printed on one side is the written content that can be read like a book when the zine is folded. The book can unfold to reveal the bigger poster on the other side of the sheet, which features key characters from the animation.
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