To Extremes: Public Art in a Changing World
To Extremes was a juried exhibition of proposals for temporary public art installations exploring the relationship of extreme events to climate change. This ideas competition was based on an authoritative scientific report released in 2011, called the Special Report on Extreme Events. The project was conceived and curated by Eli Kintisch, science journalist and 2011 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
An April 2012 juried exhibition at MIT showcased proposal boards for nine public art installations. The To Extremes conceptual designs explored, humanized or visualized aspects of themes found in a climate change report. Ideas included sculpture, light, video, sound and mural installations. The proposals evolved around nine key concepts from the Extreme Events report: heat, fire, floods, wind, drought, poverty, migration, risk, and warning. Video artist Sam Jury won the competition and presented her project at an award ceremony as part of the annual Cambridge Science Festival. Environmental artist Dan Borelli received an honorable mention award.
The Special Report on Extreme Events was published by the international Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The document is the product of two years of work by 220 experts in the physical, environmental and social sciences. It reports how a warming planet will encounter new extremes of weather and climate and the required efforts to prepare and adapt to them. Some of the most important aspects of the changing global climate are trends in extremes. A warmer planet will likely mean more heat waves and droughts, stronger hurricanes, and other trends in floods and other disasters. Preparing and adapting to these new extremes presents myriad challenges to all sectors of civil society, from emergency management to infrastructure to public health. This emerging reality raises new questions about the shifting nature of security and both environmental as well as economic risk, and the changing identity of our planet as a haven for life.
Ideas Competition Structure
Fifty artists and designers were invited to submit proposals focusing on a major aspect of the Special Report on Extreme Events by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To inform their proposals, artists were provided with dossiers on various themes covered in the document, edited by science journalist Eli Kintisch. Scientists were also available by phone to discuss scientific issues related to each theme. Entries were prepared in the form of display boards comprised of digital images and explanatory text. A jury of scientific and visual arts experts chose nine proposals.
Sam Jury, Competition Winner
Dan Borelli, Honorable Mention
Sam Jacobson, Irina Chernyakova and Nicole Goehring
Marcus Owens and Jack Becker
Dina Deitsch, Curator, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
Janet Echelman, Artist, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow
Philip J. Hilts, Director, Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT, former New York Times Reporter
Eric Höweler, Architect, Harvard School of Design
Louisa McCall, Artists in Context, Cambridge
Larry Pratt, Artist and Oceanographer, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Pablo Suarez, Geographer, Boston University and Red Cross / Red Crescent Climate Centre
Zenovia Toloudi, Architect and Research Affiliate, Art, Culture + Technology Program at MIT
MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program
Cambridge Science Festival Artists in Context, Cambridge, MA
Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
Maseeh Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Museum of Science, Boston, MA
Urban Arts Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Christina Lanzl managed the selection process and installation of the exhibition at MIT’s Maseeh Hall in April 2012.