Art as a Tool for Change
Art can be the medium to engage, influence, and educate about the climate crisis. New generations and new tools stimulate the imagination for alternative futures.
By Emma Leoni | YPA Italy
Art has always been a tool to communicate, a form of universal language, which does not require translations or mediations, because it is direct. Even here at COP26, it communicates, by striking the eyes and the senses, reaching delegates as well as the international press, crossing language barriers. Drawing, photography, sound installation, cinema are just some of the expressive forms of the works featuring inside the pavilions of the Blue and Green zones.
Here, Art loses its uselessness to become functional, not only because it is representative of the dramatic consequences of climate change, but also because it’s itself an example of interdisciplinarity and an instrument of education.
Today, scientists, biologists, climatologists, and other scientific professionals are increasingly joining and collaborating with artists, architects, and sculptors to create works that are aesthetic, functional, and useful to communities. AIRBUBBLE – a piece installed outside the Green Zone – is an example of these fruitful collaborations. A biotech architecture created in collaboration between Otrivin, a ENT specialist, and ecoLogicStudio, an architecture and design firm specialized in developing nature-based modular architectural solutions for urban environments. AIRBUBBLE is an immersive biotech architecture in which 24 bioreactors, wrapped in a thin, transparent TPU membrane, house cultures of photosynthetic living algae, Chlorella sp, which actively “eat” pollutant molecules and capture carbon dioxide to then release fresh, clean oxygen.
It is precisely the air, one of the elements on which it is urgent to act. Air pollution, indeed, is considered the greatest threat to environmental health in the world. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), 93% of children breathe polluted air every day. In order to increase awareness of the impact of this “invisible crisis” on health, Marco Poletto, co-founder of ecoLogicStudio with Claudia Pasquero, conceived and realized this work. The project is designed to directly involve children, the group most affected by this crisis.
AIRBUBBLE, then, not only in its architectural structure helps to purify the air of Glasgow, through the action of algae, but it is also designed to be a new recreational space, a new playground. Children there can have fun, but also understand this issue and participate in solving the issue, through interaction with the work itself. It is an example of a non-formal educational structure, which through the use of a space, finely structured and thought out, educates and teaches the risks and the need to improve air quality.
Art is therefore not only a communicative but also educational and functional tool, and it is the means we need to be able to transform and rethink the present, starting by creating different spaces which stimulate, sensitize and help children to deal with the climate emergency, but especially to imagine different futures.