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Meaningful climate communication with interactive art

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My name is Gabi Kiryluk, a Digital Media final year student, and I am bringing a digital interactive installation to the heart of campus to research how interacting with the artwork provides more visceral experiences of climate science.

You can visit the installation on campus during Climate Week

Everyday we interact with the campus environment in many different ways – we talk to our friends and colleagues, we move from one building to another or we simply share the same spaces. But often these interactions slip unnoticed among the hiatus of our lives.  

The Loops for Stagnation project brings attention back to both - the campus and the interaction - and uses it as a Living Lab on climate communication. It asks the question: how can digital interactive art make us understand climate change differently?  

Black image with a ring of red lights in the top left corner

Climate communication and media

In the current age of information overload, climate fatalism, and the presence of personal barriers preventing our political engagement, effective climate communication becomes challenging. 

Regarding climate change, mainstream media operate around a linear pathway of communication which assumes that information provision leads to deeper understanding of the issue, eventually turning into concern and finally action. But this pathway of communication seems ineffective when it comes to climate communication.  

There are a number of factors that this communication pathway does not consider such as the framing of the issue, personal barriers, psychological, cultural and other social limitations. Alongside that, some features of climate change such as invisible causes, geographically and temporarily distant impacts and delayed gratification for taking action make climate communication tricky. But let’s step away from the doom and gloom for a second and let’s look at what can be changed about it. 

To combat the often problematic portrayal of climate change in the media, a growing scholarly body turned to find solutions in creative and experimental practices to better convey the complexity of the problem and look for ways to make climate communication more meaningful. 

Loops for Stagnation responds to the realisation that grasping knowledge on a solely intellectual level may not be enough motivator for taking meaningful action. Instead, it offers a sensory experience which allows us to learn about how the climate operates, without evoking a sense of hopelessness, doom, or pressure often put onto individuals to immediately take climate and sustainable actions. 

How does the Loop work?

The Loop has been programmed in a visual programming software called Touchdesigner to react to movement detected by motion sensors positioned in front of the screen. I wanted to build something abstract that does not explicitly link to climate change, but rather offers a visceral learning experience which then leads us to reflect a bit more about the issue.  

You can visit the installation in the Pyramid Theatre on 29th March 12:00-17:00 and 30th March 12:00-16:00.

There’s a lot of seating space in the Theatre, so if you wish to come and just observe, rather than interact with the artwork, you are very welcomed to. 

During these two days I will be encouraging those who will have interacted with the Loop to report their experiences by filling in an online survey.

Reducing the environmental impact of the project

The project is centred around digital technologies which inevitably consume large amounts of energy. Keeping that in mind, I wanted to make sure I can reduce the environmental impact of the artwork in areas in my scope. Hence, I have accommodated the project to work with all the available equipment in the School of Media and Communication to avoid buying new tech. Instead of printing lots of leaflets explaining the project, I made use of QR codes which take you back to a website. The installation to be the most effective requires a total blackout of the space, which additionally saves some energy. These are some of the simple things I have considered, which didn’t not take any extra effort, but will make a big difference. 

Want to undertake your research using our campus through Living Lab? Feel free to get in touch with the Sustainability Service to discuss your ideas!

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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our work on Student Citizenship links to all of the SDGs.

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.