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l i f e a l l m a r i n e e n d a n g e r i n g a n d i t i o n i c a l c o m p o s i r c h e m t h e i n g c h a n g a r e t w e b u t a k e w e b r e a t h s e c o n d e v e r y

“If you're producing a piece about the planet it's important to have that sense of connection so that you're not just looking at numbers. I used to go hiking on the glaciers and I saw how much they had diminished.”

Previous Page: Timelines - Trift Glacier ( 2019). © Fabian Oefner.

Left: Timelines - Rhone Glacier ( 2019). © Fabian Oefner.

issue that people need to engage with urgently. Her hope is that, by looking at these projects within the safety and comfort of their own homes, people “will find the time to explore without rushing through.” For Tarquini, art should make an impact; it’s one of the main reasons she focuses on participatory projects. This latest piece, Diving into an Acidifying Ocean, is an interactive website. Upon visiting, the user can choose a particular time frame, scanning the ocean over the years and seeing how it’s changing with the click of a mouse. The page is dark, visceral and all-encompassing, but individual plants, animals and objects cut through the black – bursting into view as neon blobs which then, rather heartbreakingly, disintegrate. Along the way, viewers can find out more about each of the species and their position as the ocean acidifies. Pop-up facts can then be easily shared via social media, allowing viewers to propagate their learning further. “Interactivity really brings people into the midst of the story and helps them better understand and relate to the different problems. I also think it makes the experience more fun and appealing to try.”

Timelines is also an interactive website – and also unfolds chronologically – allowing users to choose a year and see how large a glacier was at that point, before scrolling through the years to see how it changes shape, reducing in size. Oefner has devised “maps” for two glaciers –  one at Rhône and another at Trift – both of which clearly show the same thing: the ice is receding shockingly fast. Whilst the information is bleak, the images are anything but – with the edges of the ice mapped out by light trails and recorded onto large images of the landscape. These pictures and gifs can also be easily shared, via social media or email.

Oefner specialises in creating work at the intersection of science and art, and his previous projects include a series of objects sliced into sections, as well as visuals made with chemicals and electricity. When working with the climate, he felt compelled to produce something with which he could personally connect – deliberately selecting landforms from his home country. This sense of empathy goes beyond hard science. He notes: “If you’re producing a piece about the planet it’s important to have that connection so that you’re not just looking at numbers. I used to go hiking on the glaciers and I saw how much they had diminished.”

Tarquini, on the other hand, considered the acidification of the ocean because it’s not the most obvious topic, nor one represented often in the media. “Pollution, overfishing and rising temperatures are absolutely crucial, but if the chemistry of the oceans changes then all lives collapse. We have historical proof that a change like this caused great mass extinctions: this is something with which we cannot turn a blind eye. We depend on the oceans.” Whether personal or not, both of these projects look at large-scale ecological issues. Meanwhile, the other two pieces in the Heartbeat series – The Coastline Paradox by Finnish duo Timo Aho and Pekka Niittyvirta and What We Eat, by American artist Laurie Frick – focus on the micro scale. The Coastline Paradox is a website that allows audiences to search for particular locations and witness how those places will be affected by rising sea levels. Comparatively, What We Eat asks visitors to generate a personalised menu and see its direct C02 emissions. It’s human nature that most users will look up their own homes and diets, which means that individuals will only become more attune

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