While all eyes are on the national and international headlines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears no one is watching and protecting the rainforest, which is experiencing a “newly deforested area” that is “71% larger” than previous records, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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a lit-up white art piece in the shape of a leafy plant against a black background

When the data regarding this rapid increase in deforestation came to light, Dutch artist Thijs Biersteker created a digital art installation titled, “Wither,” to visually represent the disappearing landscape in Brazilian rainforests.

Related: Humans can’t count on rainforests to offset their carbon

a diagram overlay on the art piece that explains how the lights correspond to the loss of Amazon rainforest

Taking the form of a plant with a variety of leaf styles, the electrically-powered piece brings to light, quite literally, the roughly three football fields-worth of rainforest that is lost each second. Well, technically Biersteker brings it to dark, as the lights of each petal fade and become transparent to represent “the loss of 250m2 of rainforest,” according to the artist. Each light that is snuffed out matches real-time data coming in from a variety of rainforest watch groups who monitor the deforestation progression. 

a lit-up white art piece in the shape of a leafy plant against a black background. some leaves in the piece are not lit-up, which signifies rainforest loss

Biersteker and his team from Woven Studio planned to reveal the artwork later on, but the recent acceleration of deforestation during this pandemic added a sense of urgency to the message, so they decided to launch now to drive awareness around the topic. The art was commissioned by Daily Paper, a popular Amsterdam-based fashion and lifestyle brand.

a closeup of a lit-up leaf form surrounded by non-lit leaves on the art piece

As Biersteker said, “It is interesting that while we dream, talk, videocall, and post about a new post-Covid-19 world, an old system is destroying our future more fiercefull than ever. This artwork turns deforestation facts into something you can feel. Hopefully it will provoke people to spend their time inside, to think about the world they want to go back to outside. I often wonder when we are allowed back into the world, what will we find, and what will we have lost?”

the entire art piece with all the lights out

Biersteker is the founder of Woven Studio, a sustainable art studio focused on helping research groups, universities, museums and architects present data through visual art.

+ Woven Studio

Images via Thijs Biersteker