Do you know what your carbon footprint looks like? You’re not alone.
In a new art exhibit, artist Alfio Bonanno, a pioneer of site-specific nature installations, and the architect Christophe Cornubert, a recipient of the Reitveld Architecture Prize, have tackled the question with a digital media installation to be unveiled on Dec. 7 at the United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen.
To show the physical manifestation of one person’s carbon footprint, Bonanno and Cornubert created structures measuring a metric tonne of carbon dioxide — roughly the size of a three-story building. (Measured at standard atmospheric pressure, one tonne of CO2 is 1.1 American tons.)
Measuring 27 feet x 27 feet x 27 feet, the CO2 CUBES correspond with the carbon footprint left by the average person in one month. In the United States, that amount is produced every two weeks. (On a yearly basis, the average American releases 22.9 tonnes of CO2, compared to 10.6 tonnes by Europeans and 4.5 tonnes by those living in Sub-Saharan regions and 1.8 tonnes by the average Indian.)
The project is one of a handful seeking to replicate carbon emissions. A traveling exhibit by the Danish Climate & Energy Ministry, called “1 Tonne,” replicates a tonne of carbon dioxide inside an orange sphere. Along the lines of the CO2 CUBES, an artistic collective called ClimateChangesArt produced a Carbon Cube community mural project. Each cube, measuring 6 feet x 6 feet x 6 feet, represents the volume of carbon dioxide produced by the average American in four hours, driving 28 miles or dumping 4.3 bags of garbage into a landfill.
In the case of the CO2 CUBES, each cube also serves as a media delivery system created by the digital media art designer, Travis Threlkel, the founder of Obscura Digital. Outfitted with 36 channels of separate video mirror screens, the streams of media can be configured for live video conferencing and can show produced video or real-time data. All digital information will focus on the science, consequences and solutions to continued carbon emissions.