Thursday Salute to Originals: High Arctic

It was once said by a famous comic book character that, “with great power, comes great responsibility” and as modern humans in the living in the 21st century we’ve never had such unprecedented power to change our environment. With that power we need to be very cognisant of the effects we’re having on our planet… enter United Visual Artists.

The installation High Arctic was born from a collaboration between United Visual Artists and London’s National Maritime Museum. The two groups aim to bring awareness to a pressing issue that we all face, climate change and the diminishing Arctic ice caps. Many scientists and climatologist predicts, based on the results of supercomputers’ algorithmic data, that by the end of this century the Arctic ice will be completely melted. This kind of drastic change will have devastating effects on the planet such as, extinction of species like the Polar Bear, rising sea levels which could inundate low lying coastal areas, and create more erratic weather patterns due to the infusion of colder waters in the North Atlantic currents.

The exhibition takes place in London in a 130 x 56 foot room and is set in the theoretical year of 2100. In said room, there are 3,000 white pillars, each of which represents the over 2,500 glaciers that exists in the arctic archipelago currently. The space was designed to be immersive and give individuals a firsthand view of the damaging effects climate change is having on the planet. Visitors are given a special torch, a UV flashlight, that allows one to interact with the space. These flashlights trigger computer generated animations from 10 ceiling mounted cameras and 10 projectors as the individual navigates through the exhibition.

Also while in the space a poem is narrated about the 1,500 year history of the glaciers and about the impending demise within the next 80 years or so. “It is more of a sensory, emotional space — something that is more of a playful, musical, visual experience rather than just being a lecture,” said Ash Nehru, Software Director and Co-Founder. The entire production is innovative in that it combines modern software and technologies like motion tracking with timeless methods of narration such as poetry and music. The experience that really makes us stop to ponder the human effects on the environment.

Image credits: Design Boom