I recently worked with the Science Gallery, London, to help explore our attitudes towards climate change and how able we feel to make changes to it. How we can take action.
These important and poignant questions are part of their latest exhibition: ON EDGE | Living In An Age of Anxiety, which ran until the 19th January, 2020.
Our task was to ask visitors the following questions:
“How much anxiety, fear, or worry do you feel about climate change?”
“How able do you feel to take action on climate change?”(Question asked at the exhibition)
The questions are displayed prominently on a high resolution screen. Exhibition-goers are then invited to plot a sticker on a graph. The position of this sticker represents the visitor’s anxiety towards climate change and their perceived ability to do something about it.
When we aggregate the visitors’ data, we create a powerful narrative. The leading questions that we pose exposes some of our nature towards the problem of Climate Change.
For example, some people may care about their impact on the planet. But they do not feel they can take a lot of action.
If this is true, why do they feel this way? Why do they do so little? Maybe they don’t know how or have no motivation.
So how can we empower people to make a change?
While some people have strong feelings towards Climate Change, others may feel differently. They may have little anxiety, fear, or worry for their impact on the planet. So what can we do to educate people about their impact, and spur them into action?
Such a question is beyond the scope of this article, which focuses on the questions not the answers. But our action or inaction towards Climate Change is something that we will report on in the future.
An so I have enabled the Science Gallery to visualise people’s answers in real-time, and display it in the gallery for all to see. Together, data becomes art.
When the gallery mediators punch the numbers in the system, our infographic updates to reflect the data. At the time of writing, it looks a bit like the below.
The current data has a leaning of bias towards 4/5 for anxiety, fear and worry and 2/5 for action. This confirms one our previously discussed narratives, that people care but don’t feel they can take much action.
There is a limitation with this approach, however. The data may be skewed because visitors to the Science Gallery could be more inclined to have more feelings about Climate Change. They are braving the winter to visit a gallery about the topic after all!
The video below shows the display in the gallery:
The ON EDGE: Living in an Age of Anxiety exhibition was open until 19 January 2020.