With the progress of social civilization, human activities continue to disturb and interfere with the natural environment, resulting in a series of impacts, such as the climate crisis, which makes the development of the world towards a variety of possibilities. As Timothy Morton said, "everything is interconnected". These possibilities not only interfere with social and economic development but also interfere with the process of human civilization. These disturbances are sometimes good and sometimes bad. Due to the interference of early human activities, the Kubuqi Desert has degenerated from grassland to the seventh-largest desert in China. Although forest vegetation can reproduce without human interference, the harsh environment of the Kubuqi Desert has far exceeded the natural regulation ability, and the purpose of ecological restoration cannot be achieved through nature. Therefore, on the premise of respecting the local desert ecosystem, afforestation has become the main way of ecological management of the Kubuqi Desert. After more than 30 years of efforts, local enterprises and residents have successfully afforested one-third of the Kubuqi Desert, prompting forest vegetation and other species to regain their living space. For this reason, the Kubuqi Desert ecology also provides people with valuable forest resources, economic sources, and food sources, forming a landscape of green and rich. In other words, people build and manage forests to improve the local climate and environment, as forests regulate climate and feedback human beings to promote the economic development of local communities. Additionally, other lives obtain living space in the process of ecological restoration and become an important part of the ecosystem. They live with human beings and forests, redesigning and shaping the current sustainable ecosystem of the Kubuqi Desert. In a word, the intervention of human activities leads to different possibilities due to different social purposes, and these possibilities are a kind of thinking experience in the social dream.
Based on my research in the Kubuqi Desert, I combined my personal feelings and ecological experience in the Kubuqi Desert to carry out art practice. The purpose is to build a discussion space related to daily life through art to attract people's attention, where people can communicate and exchange with forest and climate, and effectively receive ecological-related knowledge.
Description of the work of art
Climate Coding is digital artwork. It is designed based on my ecological experience of the Kubuqi Desert and the temperature data of the Kubuqi Desert from 1959 to 2020. I divided this work into two parts and displayed it on two large-size digital screens (height: 1.92m, width: 0.772m). Through algorithm coding and Unreal Engine 4, I designed 1922 square small rooms, which were placed together in the order of month to month, year to year. Each room is lit by lights of different colors. These colors are obtained by algorithmic coding of the temperature data of the Kubuqi Desert. In daily life, the temperature is usually displayed in digital form, but it can't give people an intuitive feeling of temperature. I am very sensitive to temperature. I will wear a heavy down coat below 10 degrees and a T-shirt above 25 degrees. Also, the temperature affects my mood. If it is too hot, my mood will be very irritable, and if it is too cold, my mood will be very upset. In fact, people's emotions are closely related to temperature. As the most intuitive feeling, color has a similar effect to temperature. Different colors can have different emotional effects on people. In my work, light is very important because I use it to create an atmosphere and remind people of their living space. We all live in a space called the earth, we all live in a space called home, and we live in a space called room. I created 744 rooms using 3D sculptures and lights. After a busy day outside, we will eventually return to our own space and relax and sleep there. It will make us feel comfortable and safe. Therefore, in my work, I created this work with lights and empty rooms, hoping to connect with the audience's daily life. The color of light is programmed through temperature data to let the audience feel what it feels like when they are deep in a house with different temperatures. For example, the room under the orange light will feel warm and comfortable. You will feel cold and lonely in the room under the blue light.
In short, I visualize the temperature by light color aiming to draw people’s attention to climate change. Also, it conveys the climate information of the Kubuqi Desert, so as to help the audience better understand the relationship between man and climate. It was summer when I was in the Kubuqi Desert. Because there is a lot of vegetation in my area, I won't feel too hot during the day and too cold at night. Moreover, in the desert, I also saw many rare wild animals which have disappeared for many years. In my view, I felt like I was on holiday in the desert. This is completely different from the description I heard many years ago. This experience has given me great inspiration, that is, human active intervention plays a great role in ecological restoration and global warming. Therefore, I design this work to show people a speculative and sustainable future, a future that people can achieve through active intervention. Moreover, through this work, the audience can intuitively see the law of temperature change in the Kubuqi Desert, and they will find that there is not too much difference in the temperature of the Kubuqi Desert in the past 62 years, mainly because of the ecological restoration project of the Kubuqi Desert is awakened on the premise of respecting the desert ecosystem. Thus, it has not caused damage to the desert system. On the contrary, this desert ecological restoration project creates a sustainable, ecological, and economic system in which people live in harmony with nature. In general, in this work, I take a specific successful ecological restoration case as the research object, explore the impact of the current severe climate problems and their severe consequences on human future development, and put forward possible uses, interactions and behaviors through digital art. The purpose is to find and create a discussion space, develop alternative social imagination, encourage people to think, and find a sustainable speculative future conducive to the existence of all people.
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found. It was established in 1994 and is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) to restore the productivity of vast expanses of degraded land, improve the livelihoods of more than 1.3 billion people, and reduce the impacts of drought on vulnerable populations.
China is one of the countries with the largest area of desertification, which occupies 2.63 million km2, accounting for 27.13 % of the total land territory, and China’s total land affected by sandification occupies 1.73 million km2, accounting for 18.03% of the total land territory of China. The Chinese government has hence laid high priority on desertification control. A particularly successful restoration example that has been approved by the United Nations as the epitome of desertification control from China is the “Kubuqimodel”. The Kubuqi desert is the 7th largest desert in China and knows to be one of the main contributing sandstorm sources of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region. Over the past 30 years of multilateral cooperation among the local government, local enterprises, farmers, and herdsmen about one-third of the 18,600 km2total area have been “re-greened”. As a result, the number of sandstorms in Kubuqi has decreased 95%, and the number of species has increased tenfold.
Similar to the famous “climate stripes” that had been created by Professor Ed Hawkins at the University of Reading in 2018 that illustrate the global average temperature for every year since 1850, which visualize cooler years in shades of blue and warmer years and red, this artwork “climate coding” explains how data visualization can help communicate science. The yellow and blue hues visualize the successful restauration of greening the Kubuqi desert, avoiding the temperature trends going into extremes but instead showing the preservation of similar annual means temperatures since 1959. This creation is depicting hope: hope that some human intervention is actually beneficial.