Distracted is an immersive new media piece that allows audiences to experience changes in climate as patterns of illumination and sound. The work was inspired by an interest in the Antarctic and climate change.
Whilst our awareness of climate change is growing, the issue remains quite abstract in the context of our air-conditioned lives. Until these events affect us directly, our understanding of a climate changing over many decades is mediated by technology and the cultural forces that construct our shared reality. Amidst the flashing lights and glamour of our technology-driven world, it is difficult to turn our attention to nature. Distracted was created in response to this mediating and consuming effect of media and technology. It was inspired by Antarctica, a pristine wilderness very few will ever visit, yet so drastically effected by climate change attributable to human activity. Despite it’s inaccessibility, Antarctica captures our imagination via mediated television images.
The physical form of this work is inspired by scientific ice core samples with the patterns of illumination and sound derived from a number of climate data sets. The central part of the sculpture displays climate data taken from the Vostok ice-core sample, which drilled to a depth of 3623m. The usable information in this core dates back as far as 414,000 years, covering 4 interglacial cycles. A small LED display on these central cores identifies which era of data is currently being displayed (years before the present day).
The central cores of the installation also show data from the Keeling Curve, which shows the annual cycle of increasing and decreasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, coinciding with the autumnal pattern of leaf loss by northern hemisphere deciduous trees. Levels of carbon dioxide increase when this large tree mass is no longer able to convert the carbon dioxide to oxygen. The flickering reflections caused by the mirror ‘bubbles’ that make up the installations outer cores, were inspired by leaves falling from a deciduous tree in the artists’ own back yard.
Like our climate, the central part of the sculpture also responds to human presence.
Original concept: Priscilla Bracks & Gavin Sade (Kuuki)
Sculptural design and assembly: Priscilla Bracks
Interaction Design and Programming: Gavin Sade
Programming: Glen Wetherall
Sound Design: Greg Jenkins, Gavin Sade, Matt Peteo
Lead Art Assistant (sculptural assembly): Nicole Gillard
Art Assistants: Athena Thebus, Rosie Atwell, Jess Lenton, Tarin Stewart, Sam Kretchmann, Dane Tennant