Co2morrow Installation Raises Climate Change Awareness at Royal Academy of Arts

Co2morrow, a green project on climate change awareness, is a two-phase study/installation that first gathers greenhouse gases data through four sensor towers in the UK and then visualizes the data an interactive sculpture, a 9m'tall tall interactive zeolite, on the façade of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, on display until January 31 as part of the exhibit Earth: Art of a Changing World.

Created from carbon fiber, aluminum, and LEDs—items representing all phases of its life cycle: design, production, use, and disposal—the sculpture is structurally inspired by the scrubber molecule (invented by the UCLA professor Omar Yaghi), which catches carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. The lighting was provided by Traxon Technologies (45 RGB LED strings, for a total of 1,400 LEDs), and output is managed via a e:cue control system.

"The software receives realtime data over the Internet from the CO2 towers deployed in the UK specifically for this project," says Alessandro Marianantoni, a multimedia artist from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and one of the CO2morrow team leaders. “It's an example of a ‘linguistic translation' process that uses statistical algorithms to transform CO2 level data and wind direction into DMX data for the 1,440 LEDs.”

Commissioned by the National Trust, the project is sponsored by Siemens, who also provided the sensor towers. Simon Jenner, owner of Full Bar Composite, a manufacturer of carbon fiber structures typically found in the boating industry, donated the fabrication of the sculpture. "This project is more than just a clever mixing of science, art, and heritage,” says Marcos Lutyens, a Los Angeles-based artist and a team leader on the installation. “This project is about the way the artist of today needs to reach beyond the traditional boundaries of the studio to work with a palette comprised of technology, data, and social fluxes and a canvas made of the very air we breathe."

After January 31, the piece will be moved to various National Trust properties around the UK in an ongoing exhibition, the system driven by Java libraries previously written for interactive installation control. At the end of the sculpture's life cycle, Karborek, which specializes in the composite recycling process, will redesign and recycle the materials for a new piece.

"Co2morrow is complex and has many different aspects. However the one that thrills me is this possibility to gather information, commonly invisible to society, translate it into a visual language, and place it in a public space," adds Marianantoni. Other members of the design team include Roberto Castellani and Lucia Barna, architects at SS67 Architetti; structural engineer Francesco Chiesi; composite engineer Riccardo Bagagli; and energy engineer Marco Piana and project manager Daniela Pangallo, both from Ghigos Energy.

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