The Pokemon GO craze has allowed explorers to blend fictional characters into their daily adventures, but a new exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum takes augmented reality to whole new level. Tamiko Thiel’s Gardens of the Anthropocene transports visitors to a futuristic landscape filled with plants that have adapted - in often curious ways - to a warming planet.
Walk through the museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park and you will find yourself surrounded by both aquatic and terrestrial plant life straight out of a science fiction film. The scene is described by Thiel as featuring “plants [which] have mutated to cope with the increasing unpredictable and erratic climate swings.” As temperatures increase worldwide, Thiel’s research predicts that the native plants in the Seattle area will evolve to withstand climate change’s effects and develop into greenery we have never seen before.
“Beyond this actual scientific basis, however, the artwork takes artistic license to imagine a surreal, dystopian scenario in which plants are ‘mutating’ to breach natural boundaries,” she explains. The “inherently erratic” behavior of the GPS lends to the entire dystopian feel of the project, as visitors must search to find different plant life on the grounds of the park. Observers may find tall, seaweed-like stalks on their journey or red algae pods expanding across the ground.
Thiel used the platform Layar to create her installation and museum visitors can download the animations onto their smartphones. In the development of the project, she consulted with Center for Creative Conservation co-directors Josh Lawler and Julian Olden, who confirmed that the increasing temperature predictions previously estimated for the planet to arrive mid-century will be here within the next 10 years, instead.
Images via Tamiko Thiel