Cambridge, MA. Warming Warning, is a new collaborative public art project installed on Harvard University’s Science Center Plaza (1 Oxford St. Cambridge, MA) from October 22nd to December 7th, 2018. This educational installation is a co-creation of Harvard Forest Fellow David Buckley Borden and Harvard Forest Senior Ecologist Aaron M Ellison that combines art, environmental design, and science communication to convey global climate-change data and spur action on campus. The 9’ x 10.5’ x 28’ sculpture is coupled with events, both on and off campus, that are geared towards local work on climate and pathways for direct action.
Local Warming Warning programs include events at Le Laboratoire, Somerville Museum, Cambridge Public Schools Design Lab, Project Zero/Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Science Center Plaza.
Warming Warning immerses visitors in a three-dimensional visualization of ongoing climate change. On one side, the > 1.5 °F change (since 1880) in global average temperature is highlighted as a white-to-red heat-gradient. The other side illustrates different future scenarios of carbon dioxide emissions. These are the paths we can take now that will lead either to a fossil fuel-free future or to an increasingly warm and uninhabitable planet.
The design represents climate change as a series of painted triangles (“deltas”) constructed from standard 4x6” timbers. Sunlight channeled and diffused through 6” gaps bounces off the brightly painted sides, endowing the whole sculpture with an incredible luminosity. Shadow patterns and color-spectrum vibrancy shift as the sculpture reflects the sun’s daily arc. The visual experience of the installation also changes in response to the visitor’s perspective. The combined dynamics animate the work throughout the day and reward repeated visits.
Finally, Warming Warning leaves space for more triangles to be added at the end of the series. A stack of nine wood timbers make up a reflection-bench that suggests each person’s role in the narrative of unfolding climate change. The primed seating element prompts each visitor to consider how they can color the future through individual and collective actions to confront climate change.
This collaborative project is supported by a unique partnership between the Harvard Forest, Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability, and Harvard Common Spaces.
Project Collaborators: David Buckley Borden, Jack K Byers, Mike Demaggio, Jim DeStefano, P.E., Dr. Aaron M Ellison, Dr. David Foster, Lucas Griffith, CC McGregor, Roland Meunier, Dan Pederson, Matt Robinson, and John Wisnewski.