This session of Optics: A New Way of Seeing Contemporary Culture looks at how imagery is created and used within the climate change debate. 

For the past few decades, stranded polar bears a top melting ice caps have become the images almost unanimous with visually depicting climate change. But as the global crisis intensifies, so too has the repertoire of photographs able to capture the geographical transformation, as well as the human impact of our warming planet. Traveling from Alaska to China, and many stops in between, New York Times staff photographer, Josh Haner has spent the past four years capturing the wide-spread impact of climate change globally through dramatic drone visuals, striking still images, and underwater exploration. As a licensed drone pilot, and an early adopter of the technology, Haner has captured the pressing consequences of a warming planet in over 10 countries, including the Galapagos Islands, through images of disappearing shorelines in Louisiana, expanding deserts in China, and the alarming loss of cedar trees in Lebanon.

Join Optics series host Reya Seghal at Abrons Arts Center for a special evening with Haner, where the discussion will take a closer look at his Carbon Casualties series and explore how imagery is created and used within the climate change debate.

This is a free event, but please register in advance. ICP Members have access to preferred seating in our reserved members’ section.

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About the Series

Hosted by artist and curator Reya Sehgal, Optics: A New Way of Seeing Contemporary Culture invites critics, artists, and imagemakers to analyze the pictures that shape contemporary culture and current events. The series considers the images, visual communications, and vision-related technologies that impact our times. In our current image-saturated society of 24-hour news cycles, social media, and memes, an understanding of the ways in which pictures are shaped, produced, distributed, remixed, and go viral is vital to an understanding of culture itself.


Reya Sehgal is an interdisciplinary artist and curator based in New York City. She has curated exhibitions and public programs at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Brown University, Queens Museum, Project for Empty Space, Knockdown Center, and BRIC. Her artistic work has been seen, and experienced, at the DUMBO Arts Festival, AS220, Distillery Gallery, RISD Museum, Arab American National Museum, and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Sehgal is a member of the DIVERSITY FELLOWS! performance collaborative, and was the 2018–2019 post-graduate fellow in visual culture at the International Center of Photography.

Josh Haner is a staff photographer and the senior editor for photo technology at the New York Times. He was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography and has spent the last five years working across the globe to document the pressing and wide-ranging realities of climate change. In drone footage and still photography from the ground, he explores the consequences faced by a warming world. His photography and video journalism have been honored with awards from World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International and the National Press Photographers Association. He is a two-time Emmy award nominee. Haner is a graduate of Stanford University and lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.

Image: Josh Haner ©️ 2019 The New York Times Company