We and nosotros can go to nature, but “can nature come to us?” This eloquent question was raised by the artist Refik Anadol during the introduction of his work, which is part of the program The Latido de la Terra. Driven by Google Arts and Culture in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), this initiative aims to make the impact of global warming visible through multimedia art pieces.
The virtual round table was held last April 7 before a group of journalists from all over the world to announce the addition of two new pieces to their collection, The Heartbeat of the Earth (same title as the program), and which already included eight others published since its inception, in 2020.
In an aesthetic game dynamic, based on artificial intelligence algorithms (AI, in its acronym in English), Anadol conceived and presented MRI of the Earth (Earth’s magnetic resonance), because, in his opinion, to act against climate change it is necessary to know its symptoms. The other work, presented in the framework of this program that was born in the last COP26, is Insidious Rising (The insidious climb). En ella, the feminine collective Hyphen Labstogether with the Iñupiaq artist -indigenous from the north of Alaska–, Allison Akootchook Warden, and the Union of Concerned Scientists in question “How will the effects be in the cascade of the melting of the poles?
“It’s time to take scientific data seriously”, declared Anadol, in the same line as expressed by Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, founder of the design studio Hyphen Labs: today there are communities originally from coastal areas, ravaged by extreme meteorological phenomena or desertified that can bear witness to the climate crisis, because they are the only ones that “suffer disproportionately”.
‘Insidious rising’ offers navigators an interactive tool to enter the “dark side” of each degree of temperature increase
To explore possible futures, those that can be predicted based on the evolution of diverse scenarios of the present, Insidious Rising put at the disposal of the navigators an interactive tool to enter the “dark side” of each degree of increase in the temperature of the atmosphere or of the waters. With every centimeter less permafrost and with the melting of the polar caps, the rise of the sea level is inevitable and, with it, the disappearance of new species of flora and fauna, among other aspects that seriously affect people.
In the round table, which had the participation of representatives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the cultural laboratory of Google Arts & Culture, debated about the best way to reach the citizens, once the data from the intergovernmental panel of experts has made clear the influence of human activities on pollution and warming of the atmosphere.
The challenge and the answer passed through communication or, in other words, through the best way to “translate” to scientists. Y, hasta ahora, el arte viene demonstraando que su translation es la más certera y la que emociona because it contains truths. Maybe the creators are, in fact, the citizens most capable of motivating and mobilizing societies, even in the regions furthest from those already suffering from climate change.
1.5 is less than 2
Global warming is ahead of our actions. This is the conclusion reached by each new publication of the IPCC report, with recommendations for governments and those responsible for environmental policies, both in the public sector and in private companies. The limit of 1.5 °C, instead of 2 °C, to refer to the expected increase in temperatures with respect to pre-industrial levels for this century, is repeated at every international meeting of the United Nations with detailed documents on the trajectories that should follow global emissions of greenhouse gases to avoid rebasing.
It is calculated that human activities have already caused a warming of approximately 1 °C and that, if it continues at the current rate, it will reach 1.5 °C between 2030 and 2052. In fact, some regions, during certain seasons of the year, are suffering an increase higher than the annual global average and, particularly in the Arctic, it reaches between double and triple. This, leaving aside the certainty that the damage already caused will last from centuries to millennia. And that will continue to cause new transformations of terrestrial and marine habitats in the long term, with associated impacts in terms of quality of life, health and economy (crops and food availability), which will affect the increase in poverty and inequality in the most vulnerable areas.
In a minimum goal, the United Nations is making the option of 1.5 °C prevail over 2 °C, which means reducing emissions by more than 40% until 2030. In any case, the selection of adaptation mechanisms and mitigation is also associated with impacts of different magnitudes on life on Earth. Although no one doubts that episodes of extreme heat will repeat in most of the inhabited regions, there will be intense precipitation in various areas and the probability of drought and lack of rain in some others.
To all these realities and simulations of science, the artist Refik Anadol presents images MRI…, radiography of the planet. With it, he treats it like a living body that lets you see its insides and the different areas affected by it fever climate thanks to a compilation of photographs of natural landscapes that are being digitally modified. Anadol brings us, with this work, to coastal sites and islands where the most dramatic transformations of landscapes are occurring, to which the inhabitants of this western urbanized world may not have access.
The artist describes his proposal as a series of “synesthetic reality experiments, based on algorithms created by artificial intelligence”. These calculations were obtained on a database of 70 million images ordered from the temperature data provided by NASA, after its meteorological monitoring of the world between 1984 and 2011 and the observation of the variations of the global sea level between 1993 and 2019, among other official sources.
For your part, the global collective Hyphen Labs y Allison Akootchook Warden focuses on the concrete consequences of polar melting and glaciers. In Insidious rising, the digital explorers of the present can consult how a planet without ice would be, with a level of the oceans that would have altered the trade routes and made the products of daily consumption more expensive, plagued with toxic waste, as well as new diseases that would emerge. All this, in a world in which habitable places would have been narrowed for climate refugees.
For now, these artists offer us a preventive treatment, which consists of allowing nature to reach us, so that we can perceive the Earth’s rhythm.
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