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Fragile Forecast: A Chronicle of Change

Last edited 67 days ago by Rob Andrews


Project Summary

This proposal outlines a self-destructing sculpture that serves as a metaphor for climate change and its progressively destructive impact. The installation consists of a tower constructed from clear glass blocks. Suspended above is a weight programmed to drop at regular intervals, each impact shattering the glass structure piece by piece. This gradual yet unpredictable disintegration reflects the uncertain temporal scope we face in combating climate change to remain below the critical 1.5°C increase in global temperatures.
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Illustrative example of a possible sculpture

Concept and Design

The sculpture will be a tower composed of stacked glass blocks, engineered to fracture incrementally under the regular impact of a weight mechanism.
The release mechanism of the weight will be a direct representation of the global carbon budget's deadline, set to completely destroy the tower by the expected deadline of 2030 (Depending on exhibition limits, other timelines could be considered)
Inherent variations in the glass make the sculpture’s lifespan unpredictable, echoing the stochastic nature of climate change's real-world impacts.
The height from which the weight drops will correlate with real-time atmospheric carbon levels, symbolizing the escalating severity of climate change as the structure's integrity weakens, but also providing a possible positive feedback loop to avoid destruction.
The tower's destruction is subtle, almost imperceptible during real-time observation, signifying the often unnoticed daily changes in our climate.
The tower installation will be paired with a timelapse video of the destruction, revealing a steady and striking disintegration of the tower over time.
As an optional addition, the use of polarized light on the installation will reveal underlying stress concentrations in the glass, which will inform how the system will break, and will demonstrate the underlying fragility of the system.
For safety, the system will be encased in a glass enclosure, to limit the spread of glass fragments

Supporting Media and Interpretation


Alongside the sculpture, a time-lapse video will document its disintegration, contrasting the seemingly static daily view with a stark visual record of the escalating damage.
The time-lapse serves as an allegory for the human tendency to overlook gradual change, bringing into sharp relief the violent and chaotic progression of climate change when viewed over an extended period.
In addition to visual elements, audio of each impact will be captured using directional microphones to provide an evocative soundtrack of destruction to accompany the visuals.

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Installation
Climate change
Overview
Overview
The installation is a chaotic system, which means that a known input like the impact of a weight dropping from a height produces an evolution in a known direction - the eventual cracking and destruction of the sculpture - but via hard to predict means at any point in time, like the extent of fracturing in the glass
The planet is a chaotic system, which means that a known input like the impact of carbon dioxide causing radiative forcing produces an evolution in a known direction - the eventual heating of the planet - but via hard to predict means at any point in time, like the extent and severity of specific weather events.
The Cause
The Cause
The weight has a known height from which it is dropped. An increase in the height increases the potential energy of the system, which leads to a higher probability of more severe cracking of the installation. As time goes by and the installation looses height, the impact of the weight will increase the likelihood of more extensive damage to the installation.
The atmosphere has a known concentration of greenhouse gasses. An increase in the concentration increases the heating of the system, which leads to a higher probability of more severe extreme weather events. As time goes by and the average concentration of greenhouse gasses increases, while biospheres decrease in resiliency, the impact of the greenhouse gasses will increase the likelihood of more extensive damage to the planet.
Time
Time
When viewed at a point in time, cracks in the installation show that there is something impacting the structure. Each impact can be seen to cause a small, usually imperceptible increase in damage to the system. Only when we view the time-lapse of the system can we see the long term evolution of the destruction of the sculpture
When viewed at a point in time, weather events and sea level rise show that there is something impacting the planet. Each severe weather event can be seen to cause a small, usually imperceptible increase in damage to the planet. Only when we view the time-lapse of the planet can we see the long term evolution of the destruction of the environment and biosphere
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Installation Objective

This installation aims to encapsulate the essence of climate change as a chaotic system evolving over long time scales. By juxtaposing the slow, almost undetectable deterioration of the sculpture with the violent disintegration captured in the time-lapse, the installation intends to challenge perceptions of normalcy. It underscores the pressing need to recognize and address the cumulative and often unseen forces that lead to dramatic environmental upheaval.
The installation is designed to provoke discourse on the importance of immediate action in the face of gradual but devastating ecological changes. It is an invitation to viewers to reflect on the slow violence of climate change and the urgent need to reevaluate our perception of 'regular' events in the context of the broader, destructive trends threatening our planet's stability.
This installation could serve as a poignant lead into a broader discussion or exhibition on the impacts of climate change.


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