A Sobering 360-Degree Video Visualization of Climate Change Data

Diller Scofidio + Renfro, still from ‘Exit’ (2015) (all images courtesy Palais de Tokyo)

Unless you’re living under a global warming-denying rock, you’ve probably heard lots of apocalyptic data related to climate change. A random sampling: the average global sea level is expected to rise 7–23 inches before the end of this century; 3,500 languages are currently in danger of extinction; and the current concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is estimated at 397 parts per million, way above the safe limit of 350ppm.

Though cited frequently in the media, statistics like these can be hard for people to fully comprehend. Piles of abstract numbers tend to make our eyes glaze over. To illustrate this global crisis in relatable human terms, Exit, a 360-degree video installation on view at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, visualizes climate change data in a series of elegant animated graphics. It coincides with this week’s COP21 conference in Paris, where leaders from 195 countries are meeting to reach a legally binding and universal agreement on how to fight climate change. While they discuss logistics with the distance of political rhetoric, this 45-minute installation viscerally depicts the dire effects of global warming on individual populations around the globe.

Visitors sit in the middle of the vast 360-degree video installation.

Elizabeth Diller, of star New York design firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, expertly visualized scientific data from more than 100 different sources. The installation breaks down inconvenient truths about rising sea levels, deforestation, forced migration, natural disasters, and the death of languages. Using color-coded pixels representing individual people, space-view images of the planet, heatmaps, animated line graphs, and a soundtrack of ambient noise, Diller turns a series of disjointed facts into a troubling narrative. At the same time, the video doesn’t moralize or push any particular agenda, instead letting the data speak for itself. Sitting on the gallery floor, watching the video on curved floor-to-ceiling screens, viewers are immersed in this tide of information. There are no cat videos to save them from creeping anxiety. Watch an excerpt of the video here:  

Diller Scofidio + Renfro, ‘Exit’ (2015)
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, ‘Exit’ (2015)
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, ‘Exit’ (2015)
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, ‘Exit’ (2015)
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, ‘Exit’ (2015)
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, ‘Exit’ (2015)
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, ‘Exit’ (2015)

Exit continues at the Palais de Tokyo (3 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116, Paris) through January 10, 2016. 

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