There are some subtle shifts that are easy to pick up on with the naked eye: When we’re embarrassed, for instance, we blush. When it rains, the clouds turn from pillowy white to ominous gray.
When the earth begins to feel the effects of a changing climate, however, the shifts can be much more abstract. We can’t see the world's oceans slowly heating up any better than we can hear the proverbial tree falling in the forest when no one's around.
Or at least we couldn’t until now.
In the latest installation from artist Jason deCaires Taylor, a sculptor known for his underwater museums that span the globe, art and science collide in a piece that’s designed to convey scientific data in a “raw, visceral, and emotive way.” Ocean Siren, due to be unveiled within Australia's Great Barrier Reef in December, is a water-based, solar-powered sculpture of a young indigenous girl issuing a warning about rising sea temperatures. Connected to temperature sensors affixed throughout the Great Barrier Reef, the sculpture will be able to change color based on live sea temperature data streaming in.
“The Australian Institute of Marine Science has a series of temperature loggers around the reef,” deCaires Taylor told The Guardian. “It will compile this data and feed it into the sculpture, so that changes in temperature will be seen in real time.”
Ocean Siren will be part of a larger project for deCaires Taylor in the Great Barrier Reef that will include the first sculptures ever to be placed within the world-famous reef system. For phase two of the museum, the artist is building a submerged 40-foot-tall skeletal greenhouse designed to facilitate underwater plant growth. The contemporary structure will be surrounded by sea-scaping, a series of coral nurseries, and underwater trees that will encourage coral reef rehabilitation in the already threatened Barrier Reef system. (Scientists estimate that at least half of the coral within the reef has died, largely due to coral bleaching caused by increased sea temperatures.)
As with all of the artist’s works, deCaires Taylor hopes the new museum will help serve a larger purpose by educating visitors on the importance of conservation and inspiring them to take action.
“Our oceans are going through rapid change, and there are huge threats, from rising sea temperatures to acidification, and a large amount of pollution entering the system,” he said. “Part of creating an underwater museum is about changing our value systems – thinking about the sea floor as something sacred, something that we should be protecting and not taking for granted.”
Learn more about deCaires Taylor’s museums around the world here.
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