About the Piece

Rays of Resilience: a Vision of the Future is a climate fiction multimedia audio-visual piece that introduces three characters living in the Tucson area from a not-so-distant, climate-changed future.

Exploring themes of adaptation, community resilience, loss, grief, and transformation, the piece seeks to illustrate what life might look like for the next generations as they navigate living in this region that will face extreme and unique climate-related challenges in the coming decades.

Rays of Resilience is not a vision of Utopia, but rather a sober and thoughtful look at how potential challenges ushered in by current and past generations might affect the next, and how they might be handled with grace and perseverance, especially if swift and decisive action on Climate Change is made in the very near future.

The visual component of this piece consists of lumenography, an alternative photographic process in which an image is transferred to photographic paper through a long exposure to solar light using organic materials and other transparent media, as well as still photographs. It was important for us to use an abstract visual media form to communicate emotionality, and it is made all the more special by using place-based materials and solar energy to create the images to help tell these stories.

Movement I: Semilla

Exploring themes of food, community resilience, and intergenerational knowledge, this first character we are introduced to is a mother and community-based sharer of knowledge.

Using knowledge as well as seeds passed down to her by her own mother, she seeks to cultivate and nurture strong connections with members of her surrounding community, and to promote health, security, and wellbeing among her neighbors.

In this story we get a very small look at how water resources might be limited and allocated due to water scarcity in the region, and how that may impact food systems and access to fresh food by ordinary people.

Most importantly, we get a glimpse of life and culture continuing across generations, especially with the torch being passed down to young children who could be our own grand and great-grandchildren.

Movement II: Romero

In this second story, themes of grief, loss, and ecological change are explored through the lens of a character in mourning.

In this imagining of the future, some people (especially the more affluent) have migrated out of the Tucson area in search of more favorable climatic conditions, leading to communities being expanded in other areas, and in this case, on Mount Lemmon.

The deceased family member in this story represents someone from one of our own generations; a lover of this place, and a documenter of its changes over time. We get a glimpse of this change through old photographs, with our narrator reflecting on how different the environment is at this time in comparison.

With the passing of the generations that came before us as well as our own (those most responsible for climate change), we must reconcile with the legacy of devastation and environmental change that we leave to future generations, and acknowledge that the memory of the world that we have gotten to know, love, and explore will eventually die with us.

Movement III: Luca

In this story, we continue to explore themes of loss and grief, coupled with hope and transformation. We are introduced to a character who works in the energy sector being haunted by and reflecting on a traumatic event that changed them and their community forever.

In our current times, climate change is actively upending life ways, as well as threatening and claiming lives across the world. In this imagining of the future, catastrophe strikes in an overly climate-stressed Tucson at some point in our hypothetical future. This tragic and traumatic event is the result of decades of negligence by global leaders, not unlike the hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and deadly infrastructure failures we have seen in recent years.

Through reliving this experience and returning to their present reality, we see in this story that life and culture finds a way, and that, if we make the decision to enact real and meaningful change, we might have a chance at continuing to live graceful, pleasurable, and comfortable lives in this place that we call home.

The hope is that we never have to experience a disaster of this scale in order to take action and demand necessary change, but it is also an acknowledgement of the suffering and loss that people continue to endure across our world in this moment in our history, and a reminder that it can happen to us just as well.

Artist Bios

Chris Zatarain is a first year MA student in the Applied Intercultural Arts Research program in the Graduate College/GIDP at the University of Arizona. He completed his BA in Music with a minor in Environmental Studies at the University of Arizona in May 2023. He is primarily interested in music, sound studies, and multimedia storytelling as they relate to climate change and the environment. Zatarain was a member of the flagship cohort of the Diana Liverman Scholars at the University of Arizona from 2021-2022, where he contributed environmental communication pieces for community partners in Southern Arizona, including the creation of a sound meditation piece for the Cascabel Conservation Association. Zatarain is a 2023-2024 senior correspondent with Planet Forward, a student environmental storytelling platform based out of George Washington University, and as a 2022-2023 correspondent, was selected as a Storyfest Finalist in the Spring of 2023 for his composition The Sound of Mountains Melting scored for English horn and fixed media. He currently serves as 2nd Oboe/English horn with the Sierra Vista Symphony.

Jacqueline Arias is a third-year MFA interdisciplinary student born in Costa Rica and raised in southern Ohio. This varied geographical and cultural history has inspired a body of work that combines experimental video, data-visualizations, sound and performance to construct alternative historiographies. Arias is an independent director of a feature length documentary film, entitled Imaginary Mothers that was screened at the 2017 Golden Door International Film Festival and at the Adoption Initiative 2018 biennial conference. In 2018, Arias was awarded a seed grant from Women In Film and Video DC. Arias has been invited to speak about her work and activism at Nogales Museum, Mexico and Loyola University, Maryland. In 2022, Jacqueline was awarded a $10,000 Border Lab Graduate Fellowship from the Confluence Center for Creative Inquiry at the University of Arizona. Her work was recently selected for the Arizona Biennial at the Tucson Museum of Art where she was asked to speak about her work as a part of the Artist’s Spotlight series. Arias earned a BFA in photography from Parsons School of Design and is currently in the interdisciplinary MFA program at the University of Arizona in Tucson.


Chris Zatarain | original text, recording, sound design, and music

Jacqueline Arias | lumenography (alternative photographic process), video editing and narration

Zack Lischer-Katz | still photographs

Ruben Jaime Papacci | creative technologies, animation

A special thank you to the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona for including us in their 2023-2024 Studio CCP programming and for providing us space to share our work.

This piece was created in part for Planet Forward, an environmental journalism and storytelling platform based out of George Washington University in Washington D.C.

A special thanks also to Frank Sesno and the folks at Planet Forward for their continued support and encouragement.