The aim of this project is to increase awareness of environmental issues using current and carefully aligned forms of contemporary art production. The progress of human civilisation has created the Anthropocene, within which the global climate crisis has become a paramount issue. This is the main theme to be represented in my work.
I intentionally conscripted my quotidian day job when I worked as a coffee roaster at Humblebee Coffee, focusing on the impact of daily consumption of natural resources, the exploitation of materials, and the impact of climate on this industry together with the capitalist economy in which coffee is embedded.
Climate change is also having a serious impact on coffee producing areas. The temperature in Minas Gerais, Brazil, fell to −1.2 degrees Celsius in July, 2021, causing the worst frost damage to coffee plantations (Grant, 2021). I contacted Andre Selga, of Southland Merchants (A Brazilian green bean supplier to Australia based in Adelaide). According to an interview with Espigao Farm, the coffee trees in the Chapadao production area have been seriously damaged by frost, and many coffee trees need to be cut down and replanted.
In my investigation of German artist Joseph Beuys, I was particularly intrigued by his art form known as ‘social sculpture’, particularly 7000 Oaks (1982). Beuys social sculpture provided me with a fresh perspective on contemporary art whereby it may be possible to harmonise and disseminate environmentalism, politics, and new scientific facts. Not only can I communicate with the public but I can also deepen vigilance against these environmental challenges by using methods of creation taught from practising social sculpture. Using coffee as a medium in my art practice, I am able to connect people and highlight environmental issues. When people partake in one of my project coffees, they receive information explaining its origins, and a direct encounter through my service on climate effects. They can also donate money to help these frost-affected farmers through the 7000 Coffee Trees platform. This project is about direct social outcome and impact.
Through the use of technology, media installation and the notion of social sculpture. I want creative practice to make people think about their relationship with the environment and be mindful of their actions regarding their contribution to climate change. Ideally, my projects are created from a basis of ethical assessment whilst avoiding unnecessary waste and overuse of resources.
The plan of 7000 Coffee Trees to think about how social sculpture can be connected with technology, such as social media and extend reality, to develop a wider resonance and increase availability to a broader audience, to improve accessibility and awareness of the project, and increase the direct social and economic impact by aiding the affected coffee growing areas.
Figure 1. Dung-Chuan Wen, Instagram 7000coffeetrees. 2022.
Figure 2. Dung-Chuan Wen, 7000 Coffee Trees Gofundme. 2022.