An immersive trail in Lisbon to reflect on the current climate emergency

The maat - Lisbon Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology presents the EARTH BITS - Sensing the Planetary exhibition project on the climate emergency.

From March 18, 2021, the maat - Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon presents EARTH BITS - Sensing the Planetary, an exhibition project dedicated to the current climate emergency, designed and realized by the Italian studio Dotdotdot, thanks to the scientific support of ESA (European Space Agency), IEA(International Energy Agency) and EDP Innovation(Energias de Portugal), EDP Sustainability. It will be open to visitors until September 6, 2021, pandemic situation permitting.

It will be an immersive journey between science, culture, and design: the public will be guided by data, transformed into interactive installations, dataviz, digital wallpapers, and animated videos designed to create awareness and critical thinking about the environmental impact of one’s behaviors, even daily, on the entire planet. Amultisensory experience in which multimedia and transmedia content will become emotional and didactic matter.

The exhibition is part of maat Explorations, the palimpsest of exhibitions, educational activities and public programs designed by the Portuguese museum to explore, through different points of view, the most topical issues related to environmental transformation that are profoundly affecting the future of our planet.

Led by new director Beatrice Leanza, the maat has relied on the multidisciplinary, research and innovation skills of the Dotdotdot studio (founded in Milan in 2004 and among the first in Italy to work in the field ofInteraction Design) to investigate in an innovative way the different anthropogenic phenomena behind the climate crisis, starting from the decoding and simplification of complex scientific data.

"The design of narrative experiences based on scientific evidence such as Earth Bits combines the museum’s vision and the desire to stimulate critical thinking, going beyond the simple staging of a message, thanks to the construction of a story to be explored through innovative languages that help decode complexity, structure thinking and create knowledge that is open to the confrontation between science, culture and society," stressed Alessandro Masserdotti, co-founder and CTO Dotdotdot.

The itinerary includes four multimedia installations: Power rings, 24Hours: The ecology and energy of our flux, The CO2 mixer, Planet calls- Imagining Climate Change; these are intended to give back to the visitor scientific evidence on the environmental crisis and the centrality of human-caused energy consumption through a scenario of individual and collective responsibilities to reach a global vision.

Starting from an analysis of the current environmental situation and the consideration that energy has now become an indispensable element to fuel our lifestyle, the different installations show, thanks to the reworking of objective data, how the energy needs caused by our daily actions are closely linked to the rapid depletion of resources that are fundamental to the Earth’s ecosystem.

It will begin with Power rings, a looping dataviz that presents Portugal’s electricity consumption in 2019-2020 by recounting the impact of restrictions and measures taken during the first lockdown and how covid-19 affected the country’s energy needs. The video was made using a set of data made available by EDP Innovation, the research and development division of EDP(Energia do Portugal), the national energy agency.

It continues with 24Hours: The ecology and energy of our flux: a large, 12-meter-long illustrated mural that accurately recounts, through a series of detailed illustrations, the energy consumption mechanisms that underlie eighty simple actions that we perform on a daily basis.

The CO2 mixer is a special console with an animated graphical interface that allows individuals to identify their energy impact on the planet based on their lifestyle, with the intention of becoming more aware of all those habitual daily activities that are responsible for Co2 emissions. On the one hand, the console mixers are associated with certain macro-categories of behavior, from eating habits to mobility to household consumption, while on the other hand, the controllers are matched both to the environmental impact generated by specific industries and to the different scenarios proposed by individual environmental policies. Thanks to a special software for audio synthesis, linked to an algorithm capable of transforming the entered parameters into sounds, the combination of all these elements gives rise to a novel emotional sound palette that with the interaction of the visitor generates a sound, each time unique, more or less harmonious depending on the behaviors selected in the console. This is intended to stimulate the public to reflect on the climate crisis as a collective responsibility, conveying a sense of urgency and the need to keep the global average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees to prevent the Earth from reaching a point of no return.

The exhibition concludes with Planet calls, a large digital wallpaper ’painted’ by data and images, created thanks to the special collaboration of the European Space Agency (ESA), which has made possible the use of valuable satellite data and images collected thanks to the Copernicus program, whose satellites every day scan our planet in real time to monitor various environmental phenomena. The result is an unprecedented installation that aims to visually translate the totality of this scientific information into a broader cosmological view, showing the public the historical correlation between the increase in CO2 emissions generated by human actions, the resulting global warming, and the ongoing repercussions with the increasing occurrence of environmental phenomena such as floods, melting glaciers, rising seas, droughts and fires.

The exhibition project intends to offer a novel approach to the topic thanks to the narrative peculiarities of interaction design, stimulating new insights in the public to become more aware of their own activities and foster a more sustainable lifestyle.

Image: © Dotdotdot for MAAT: global temperature data visualization for the video installation Planet Calls - Imagining Climate Change. Satellite data from theESA Copernicus(European Space Agency) program.

An immersive trail in Lisbon to reflect on the current climate emergency
An immersive trail in Lisbon to reflect on the current climate emergency

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