Good design evokes a reaction from the observer, as a spectator might find in an art gallery or architecture that makes a statement. A temporary installment currently in Manhattan brings a culmination of these elements of art, architecture, and design together to stimulate the senses and bring environmental problems front and center.
The display, called Arcadia Earth, is a 15-room immersive experience. Each room is packed with art that makes a statement regarding current environmental issues. Renowned artist and organizer Valentino Vettori spent months gathering materials and creating the work, all of which represents sustainability through the use of upcycled, biodegradable or reusable materials in the design.
“We wanted to show how we can upcycle and make beautiful things with recycled materials,” Vettori stated in an interview earlier this month. “I wanted to design it in the most sustainable way. At the end of this show, I want to walk away with the least amount of pollution.”
With that end goal in mind, Vettori used zero plasterboard or plastic in the art displays. Biodegradable fabric covers the walls and many of the effects were created using augmented and virtual reality.
The goal is to send the visitor on a journey that allows them to experience the problems facing the world as a result from the negative impacts human activities have on the planet. For example, in the coral reef room, visitors learn that a single drop of chemical sunscreen is enough to contaminate a coral reef environment the size of 6.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The meat room, smelling like a farm and covered in animal carcass art, educates about meat production and explains that it takes more than 1,800 gallons of water to result in one pound of consumable beef.
While it’s meant to stimulate the senses for impact, the intent is not to be overwhelming or create a feeling of doom. Instead, Arcadia Earth is meant to inspire change. Each of the 12 collaborative environmental artists worked with the goal of showing how changes in human behavior — the daily acts from each of us — can lower emissions, reduce water and electrical resources, and improve air quality. In fact, each work includes tips for how you can help solve the problem with actions you can take daily.
One installation by artist Basia Goszczynska is a cave created from plastic bags. More specifically, it includes 44,000 plastic bags, which represents the number of bags used in New York every minute.
Other artists include Samuelle Green, Tamara Kostianovsky, Etty Yaniv, Cindy Roe, Poramit Thantapalit, Jesse Harrod, Justin Bolognino, Katie Donahue, Katharina Hoerath, Charlotte Becket and Emmy Mikelson.
To further the meaningful goals of Arcadia Earth, they partnered with Oceanic Global, an ocean conservation group. All proceeds from the exhibit will go towards educating people about the effect our actions have on the planet and what we can do to change.
Arcadia Earth is located at 718 Broadway and is open to the public through January 2020. Tickets for general admission are $33, student tickets are $27 and tickets for children ages 6-14 are $12.