Ian-JohnstonThis exhibition by Nelson, B.C. architect-turned-artist Ian Johnston opened at the Dunlop Art Gallery on Jan. 31. It consists of three parts, and examines notions of progress and prosperity in our consumer culture.

The first part of the exhibition celebrates human ingenuity and the spirit of invention that has led to many wonderful innovations that have made life much more pleasant and productive.

One criticism that’s often leveled at environmentalists is that don’t appreciate the conveniences of modern life and that instead they would rather see humanity regress to living in caves and using stone tools as our distant ancestors once did. That’s a pretty gross misrepresentation of that position, though. As members of modern society environmentalists appreciate and use many types of technology just like everyone else.

What they argue for, rather, is that humanity needs to realize that now that we have largely escaped the constraints of natural selection as a means of keeping our population in check (witness the growth in our population from around one billion in 1900 to over seven billion today) we need think very carefully about how we measure progress and prosperity and recognize that unsustainable development is putting immense pressure on the planet and that will ultimately bite us in the ass big-time

Johnston address some of those concerns in the final two components of the exhibition where he looks at the practice of mass production/consumption today and the subsequent impact that this has on the environment.

Reinventing Consumption runs at the Dunlop Art Gallery until April 3.