I wanted to share an exhibit I saw last week as part of Marfa Dialogues / NY, an initiative to engage the public and practitioners with conversations about climate change science, environmental activism and artistic practice. “Climate Art: New Ways of Seeing Data” was at IMC Lab + Gallery in Manhattan.
The show was primarily projections of data visualization of environmental patterns, in the natural and social sense. The visual installations were aesthetically captivating, with vector lines zooming in and out, moving across the wall rhythmically, almost hypnotically. Aaron Koblin's Flight Patterns (from 2008) is an engaging way to envision the immense amount of flights that traverse through our skies on a daily basis. Another installation, by artist Ursula Endlicher, takes data such as wind speed and direction, and outputs a visual projection of weather.
Though these works definitely suggest the negative impacts of consumption and productivity to our environment, it also makes the data look impressive and somewhat wondrous. My question, then, is geared towards asking how we can use visualization to engage active solutions that are feasible. Is there a way to provide data that suggests further interaction beyond just awareness of climate change? How could we utilize visual methods to facilitate a participatory response to climate change? In other words, we need more action. One good example is Mobile Eco-Studio's performative plantings of native nopal cacti in Arizona, to increase community involvement in turning vacant lots to vegetated areas. I'm curious to know people's thoughts on this merging of information visualization + active participation -- and how this digital interface can have viable effects to our physical environment.