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[#WeFACE] Artists warn looming climate crisis through data-driven projects

Experimental art visualizes rising temperatures’ threat to ecosystems

South Korean data artist Min Sey (far right) moderates a special session at the H.eco Forum on Thursday, joined by Italian creative technologist Cristina Tarquini (bottom left) and Timo Aho, Pekka Niittyvirta and Jonatan Hilden (top three). (Park Hae-mook/The Herald Business)
South Korean data artist Min Sey (far right) moderates a special session at the H.eco Forum on Thursday, joined by Italian creative technologist Cristina Tarquini (bottom left) and Timo Aho, Pekka Niittyvirta and Jonatan Hilden (top three). (Park Hae-mook/The Herald Business)
Artists from different parts of the globe joined Herald Corp.’s first H.eco Forum on Thursday to showcase their artistic approach in responding to the looming climate crisis and to communicate with the public through data.

Five artists came together from different time zones for an hourlong session to present their experimental works of art from “Heartbeat of the Earth.” The series was created in collaboration with the Google Arts & Culture Lab and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The initiative allowed artists to create interactive pieces on climate change by using key findings from a UN report and data from international scientific institutions. Using their creative interpretations, the artists showcased their unique takes on climate data to visualize rising sea levels, acidifying oceans and more.

Starting off the session, Timo Aho, Pekka Niittyvirta and Jonatan Hilden presented their project “Coastline Paradox,” an online work released last year that explores the impact of global warming and sea-level rise through modified versions of Google Maps and Street View.

The team used openly available scientific data to visualize the effects of the rise of seas into a digital reality, combining multiple datasets, elevation models and three-dimensional rendering. The web experience shows how much of now-inhabited areas around the world would be flooded and unlivable if water levels rise due to the rise in temperature.

Helsinki-based artists Aho and Niittyvirta collaborated to seek meaningful ways in addressing topical phenomena in public spaces, which led to the creation of “Coastline Paradox” with joint effort from Jonatan Hilden, a co-founder of information design agency Koponen+Hilden.

“We wanted to highlight the urgency of global warming and bring science and data closer to people,” Aho said during the videoconference for the session.

Italian art director and creative technologist Cristina Tarquini presented “Diving Into an Acidifying Ocean,” a data visualization project that explores how the rise in temperature and released amount of carbon dioxide affect marine life. Users encounter various animals through the web experience to learn how they have been and will be impacted by anthropocentric changes.

Tarquini, founder and creative director of Studio Crtq, has spent her career blending digital and physical spaces to transform communication challenges into meaningful and memorable experiences.

“Do we want oceans empty or become lack of life only filled with our garbage? We truly have the power to change the situation and save marine life,” Tarquini said. “If we act together and truly achieve sustainable change, we definitely can do this.”

She added that the project was intended to raise more communication on climate issues and use it to bring formidable action toward resolving the problem.

South Korean data artist Min Sey, who also moderated the special session, introduced her “Climate Change Impact Filter” project, which shows what animals and plants on Earth would disappear and what would remain when the planet’s temperature rises by as much as 5 degrees Celsius.

Min has spent her career creating works meant to understand people and society from various perspectives by data, collaborating with a number of Korean and global companies for her projects. Her collaborative project with Google allows users to see temperature changes’ impact on various species of insects, birds, reptiles, mammals, plants, marine life and Anthropocene.

“Climate change is an important subject, but the problem is on whether we actually feel the importance to our senses in real lives,” Min said.

“What I wanted to convey in the project is that our real lives and normal routines could be affected from climate change and that we should be aware of that.”

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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