Climate Change Gets Strikingly Visualized by a Scottish Art Installation

What does it accom­plish to talk about cli­mate change? Even those who talk about cli­mate change pro­fes­sion­al­ly might find it hard to say. If you real­ly want to make a point about ris­ing sea lev­els — not to men­tion all the oth­er changes pre­dict­ed to afflict a warm­ing Earth — you might do bet­ter to show, not tell. That rea­son­ing seems to have moti­vat­ed art projects like the giant hands reach­ing out from the waters of Venice pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, and it looks even clear­er in the more recent case of Lines (57° 59 ́N, 7° 16 ́W), an instal­la­tion now on dis­play on a Scot­tish island.

All images cour­tesy of Timo Aho and Pekka Niit­tyvir­ta

“At high tide, three syn­chro­nized lines of light acti­vate in the Out­er Hebrides off the west coast of Scot­land,” writes Design­boom’s Zach Andrews, and in the dark, “wrap around two struc­tures and along the base of a moun­tain land­scape.

Every­thing below these lines of light will one day be under­wa­ter.” Cre­at­ed by Finnish artists Pekka Niit­tyvir­ta and Timo Aho for Taigh Chearsab­hagh Muse­um & Arts Cen­treLines (57° 59 ́N, 7° 16 ́W) offers a stark reminder of the future human­i­ty faces if cli­mate change goes on as pro­ject­ed.

But why put up an instal­la­tion of such appar­ent urgency in such a thin­ly pop­u­lat­ed, out-of-the-way place? “Low lying arch­i­pel­a­gos like this one are espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble to the cat­a­stroph­ic effects of cli­mate change,” Andrews writes, adding that the Taigh Chearsab­hagh Muse­um & Arts Cen­tre itself “can­not even afford to devel­op on its exist­ing site any­more due to the pre­dict­ed rise of storm surge sea.” But though the effects of ris­ing sea lev­els may be felt first on islands like these, few pre­dic­tions have those effects stop­ping there; worst-case sce­nar­ios won’t spare our major metrop­o­lis­es, and cer­tain­ly not the coastal ones.

You can get a sense of what Lines (57° 59 ́N, 7° 16 ́W) looks like in action from the pho­tographs on Niit­tyvir­ta’s site a well as the time-lapse video at the top, which shows the lines of light acti­vat­ing when their sen­sors detect high tide, then only those lines of light remain­ing by the time the sun has gone com­plete­ly down. To expe­ri­ence the full impact of the instal­la­tion, how­ev­er, requires see­ing it in per­son in the con­text for which it was cre­at­ed. So if you’ve been putting off that trip to the Out­er Hebrides, now might be the time to final­ly take it — not just because of Niit­tyvir­ta and Aho’s work, but because in a few years, it may not be quite the same place.

via Colos­sal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ani­ma­tions Show the Melt­ing Arc­tic Sea Ice, and What the Earth Would Look Like When All of the Ice Melts

Huge Hands Rise Out of Venice’s Waters to Sup­port the City Threat­ened by Cli­mate Change: A Poignant New Sculp­ture

Music for a String Quar­tet Made from Glob­al Warm­ing Data: Hear “Plan­e­tary Bands, Warm­ing World”

A Song of Our Warm­ing Plan­et: Cel­list Turns 130 Years of Cli­mate Change Data into Music

A Map Shows What Hap­pens When Our World Gets Four Degrees Warmer: The Col­orado Riv­er Dries Up, Antarc­ti­ca Urban­izes, Poly­ne­sia Van­ish­es

A Cen­tu­ry of Glob­al Warm­ing Visu­al­ized in a 35 Sec­ond Video

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (10)
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  • Nathan says:

    This is a beau­ti­ful and ele­gant expres­sion of the neu­rot­ic fear instilled by polit­i­cal­ly mind­ed and fund­ed sci­ence. The recog­ni­tion that we can all imag­ine, through a sort of gestalt cog­ni­tion, the night­mare that we are being forced to believe is pos­si­ble “in a few years” adds a lay­er of genius that only the most sophis­ti­cat­ed exhi­bi­tion­ist could con­jure.

  • Joseph says:

    In the mean­time sea lev­els refuse to rise… Not an inch since the cli­mate change hys­te­ria was launched, per­haps 2 decades ago now.

  • Harrie Baken says:

    @ Joseph
    At least 3 inch­es.
    “More pre­cise data gath­ered from satel­lite radar mea­sure­ments reveal an accel­er­at­ing rise of 7.5 cm (3.0 in) from 1993 to 2017, which is a trend of rough­ly 30 cm (12 in) per cen­tu­ry.”
    ( )

  • Duane says:

    Al Gore said the New York City would already be under­wa­ter by now.

    He then made a for­tune sell­ing his TV sta­tion to an Mid­dle East­ern oil state.

    He con­tin­ues to earn large amounts of mon­ey giv­ing lec­tures on his not so vast grasp of sci­ence.

  • Dennis Davis says:

    Say it often enough and loud­ly enough and peo­ple will be coerced to believe it. If they don’t, just ridicule them. Straight out of Alin­sky.

  • Joseph says:

    Thanks Dan,
    That still only adds up to per­haps 14 inch­es in a cen­tu­ry… A pass­ing motor­boat caus­es high­er rip­ples than that. There might be a steady rise in sea lev­els, part of a nat­ur­al cycle. The doom­say­ers claim that the rise will accel­er­ate at some cer­tain myth­i­cal date, a date always post­poned, based on no facts… As for the nat­ur­al cycle, per­haps not reas­sur­ing or even fright­en­ing a bit, but one could walk from Eng­land to France or Rus­sia to Alas­ka before the last Ice Age end­ed and the sea lev­els rose.

  • dave says:

    No mat­ter that cli­mate goes through cycles. It has been so for eons and will con­tin­ue on for eons. We have min­i­mal effect. To think more is pure hubris.

  • TexasHoldEm says:

    Hap­py Earth Day — Cel­e­brat­ing 50 years of the earth end­ing in 10 years.

  • Gerald says:

    Dave is basi­cal­ly right. The cli­mate has always changed. The notion that human beings are respon­si­ble for any of these changes is very far from clear. Here is a video from Patrick Moore, for­mer­ly of Green­peace, explain­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties with cau­sa­tion in this area:

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