Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification defines desertification as a process of land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It has become one of the most globally significant environmental issues today, as desertification severely diminishes the earth’s ecological capacity as well as its support towards human beings in multiple aspects, including massive deforestation, food loss, forced migration, water scarcity, climate change and political instability. For China, the most populated country in the world which feeds 18.59% of the total world population but has over 25% of its land being desertified, combating desertification is an especially urgent and arduous task.
Ant Forest is a mini app embedded in China’s largest online payment software Alipay. Launched in 2016, it has motivated half a billion users to digitally and collectively combat desertification by planting 122 million trees which cover over an area of 112,000 hectares and avoid 7.9 million tons of carbon emission. As users accumulate virtual points by adopting a low-carbon lifestyle, such as taking buses, walking, and paying bills online, their points will be converted to different species of trees planted in some of China’s most arid regions by Ant Forest and its NGO partners.
In this, I created a scroll of abstract dots and shades, corresponding to the real data of combating desertification effort in Mu Us Desert, Kubuqi Desert, Taklamakan Desert. The clustering brushstrokes are extracted from the remote sensing data processed from Earth Explorer and calculated as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) which shows a vibrant land cover change in those desertified regions. Transforming the geographic information data into the dots and shades of the sweeping greenness happened during the past several years, I intended to spread the word of our changing climate and environment through this panoramic landscape painting inspired from the One Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains (千里江山图) by the legendary Chinese painter Ximeng Wang during the Song Dynasty.