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Climate Action Projects Showcase: Art-A-Hack and BeFantastic 2021

Posted by the Thoughtworks Arts Team
Thursday, 9 December 2021

Throughout the summer and fall of 2021, a diverse international cohort of artists, designers, technologists and makers created innovative artworks responding to the global climate emergency.

An AI-generated visual montage representing artworks and themes explored within the program
An AI-generated visual montage representing artworks and themes explored within the program

Participants from Singapore, Switzerland, India and South Asia, Germany, and the United States were incubated by technology and art mentors, including ThoughtWorks Arts directors Andy McWilliams and Ellen Pearlman in partnership with BeFantastic (India/Singapore), Art-A-Hack and Thoughtworks Arts.

On November 18th, team members presented a virtual livestreamed showcase of collaborative artworks by program fellows, in a series of themed breakout rooms that examined: Climate Action, Cross Cultural Collaborations and Trans Disciplinary Practices. The projects can also be explored in Augmented Reality via an interactive AI-generated poster.

This ambitious program has produced a series of new works and prototypes across international borders, with the generous support of the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia (New Delhi), Goethe-Institut / Max Muller Bhavan (Bangalore), and incubation from ThoughtWorks Arts, and in partnership with Supernormal (Singapore), In The Wild (Singapore) and Dara.network (USA) and Art-A-Hack™.

Whale Tales: Adventures of Ocean Superheroes

An AI-generated montage representing whales in an ocean sunset landscape

Whale Tales brings to light the crucial role that whales play in the planet’s carbon-cycle. Imagined as a mesmerising physical exhibition accompanied by an AR adventure book, Whale Tales uses AI generated visuals to tickle the curiosity of adults and children alike encouraging audiences to be emotionally invested in the conservation of whales.

Learn more about Whale Tales

Supratrajectory

A graphic representation of a person navigating a 360 degree theater

Supratrajectory uses machine learning and interactivity bringing audiences on a speculative journey into the future. The installation invites viewers to contemplate - within a 360° projection space - the destructive trajectory that technological progress has placed humanity on - and explores a future in which continued human existence (of the privileged) relies on discovering potentially habitable planets. Learn more about this project

with.each.drop

A dancer in a vertically-aligned stance, with overlaid graphical concentric circles and text saying “with each drop” and “a wave rising, cresting, crashing”

with.each.drop is an ode to the intricate relationships people around the world have with water. Through p5.js, ml5 and PoseNet, this project facilitates a collaboration between performer, audience and machine to understand our dance with nature and water - expressing climate grief and anxiety.

Learn more about with.each.drop

Stories from your Future

A screenshot of a chatbot interaction in which an automated authorial voice is advsing a citizen in a future New Delhi to remain hydrated

Stories From Your Future is an immersive text-based experience where participants navigate through CloudBee - an imagined AI digital governance system, set in 2050 Delhi. It weaves predictive research and location-specific IPCC climate projections into stories, with the participants as co-authors with agency. Learn more about this project

Climate Pieta

An AI-generated image of human-like figures draped in blue and red in a desert with a lone bush-like growth behind them, alongside text referencing landslides and citing a lack of respect for nature and God, attributed to an un-named 32-year old Christian male

Climate Change is a collective experience, yet the response to the crisis has been extremely fragmented. Representing different but convergent ideas of the sacred, Climate Pieta is an amalgam of conversations, found footage and AI generated visuals, and seeks to be a site of prayer, reflections, and action.

Learn more about Stories from your Future

The Lost Passage

A flock of hundres of digitally-generated 3D passenger pigeons

In 1914, the passenger pigeon succumbed to the pressures of a rapidly industrialising world and faced extinction. The Lost Passage puts us in contact with a new virtual ‘habitat’ where pigeons populate a digital landscape and act as a substitute for real pigeons, navigating a constantly moving environment crafted with machine learning algorithms.

Learn more about The Lost Passage

Earthling Meditations

Eighteen abstract images in a grid pattern, most ocean blue, some a thermal red and yellow, and some with darker, blotted imagery, each accompanies by the text “slimebubble”

Earthling Meditations is a meditative tool for the collective exploration of complex feelings around climate change, based on contemplative practices of nature, mindfulness, and community to activate personal change. Incorporating ML-generated text-based prompts alongside interactive visuals and sounds towards a meditative journey, the project imagines machines as collaborators for the creation of safe spaces to address mental health issues related to the environmental challenges of our times.

Learn more about Earthling Meditations

i call you my kin

Thumbnails of a visually broad array of funghi, screenshotted from a Windows Explorer computer

i call you my kin draws parallels between the manmade and the natural. Incorporating AI and ML, this project is imagined to be an immersive microsite that challenges incumbent worldviews towards provoking kinship with indigenous cultures and non-human systems, such as the fungal networks that define the mycelium universe.

Learn more about ‘i call you my kin’

Under the Shade of a Tree

A photograph of a park in India, overlaid against a map of the world

Under the Shade of a Tree is an online platform that allows artists, activists and other collaborators to geo-tag audio recordings at specific locations - hosting sound walks that focus on history, biodiversity, and the challenges such sites face due to climate change and over-development. This project aims to convene culture-specific experiences, both ecological and human, to provoke dialogue around climate action.

Learn more about Under the Shade of a Tree

Tree of Life: Interdependence and Fragility of Life

Four cartoon animals being animated by the movements of people whose body pose is being detected

Tree of Life is playfully interactive, web-based work that helps us experience symbiotic relationships we have with other living things. This project invites viewers to enter into a ‘movement towards change’, while revising perspectives on how we might affect and build a future based on empathy and respect.

Learn more about Tree of Life

a silent scream

A video still of a rock, the frame divided with the right side filtered by a red overlay, overlaid again by text saying “does your conscious hear the scream?”, next to which is a human face whose movements are being monitored

Interrogating humanity’s perception of climate change, animal cruelty and the impending extinction crisis, a silent scream uses film and facial expressions to guide its audience’s experience. Using AI, this exhibition attempts to inspect one’s own emotional reactions to the climate crisis.

Learn more about ‘a silent scream’

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