Conversations around climate change are often highly pessimistic, with new scientific data leading to despair and defeatism. There is an urgent need for symbols of repair and healing to replace these familiar narratives, which can stand in the way of meaningful climate action.
A rotating beam sits atop a bed of sand, inscribing patterns into the sand below. The sand is ground olivine, a green volcanic mineral that is found abundantly in the Earth’s subsurface. When seawater meets olivine, a reaction occurs that pulls carbon dioxide out of the air and the carbon finds its way to the bottom of the sea, stored as carbon deposits. This process – mineral weathering – constitutes one of the Earth’s natural mechanism to regulate its carbon level and functions as an important carbon sink.
The patterns are generated from global climate datasets – carbon emissions, tweets on climate change, meteorological data – which are then translated into visualisations to represent collective action. Seen from above, the rotating installation creates mandala-like patterns in the sand. The mandala is a spiritual symbol in Eastern religions, used during meditation to help with healing. In this way, the form and material of the installation become a symbol of recovery and restoration – an important aspect of climate action that is all-too-often overlooked.
The title stems from the term 'enhanced mineral weathering' that refers to geoengineering methods that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by using geological minerals (for example, olivine) through chemical reactions occurring in the presence of water. The word 'weather' also refers to the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time, which has been quite erratic recently due to the effects of climate change. In its verb form, 'weather' can also mean 'to withstand (a difficult situation or danger)', 'survive', 'pull through'.
This project was inspired, in part, by the ambitions and efforts of Project Vesta, a non-profit working to further the olivine science of Coastal Enhanced Weathering (CEW) as a carbon capture technology to help mitigate climate change. It is hoped that the installation can be an artistic advocate for the carbon capture technology of olivine, highlighting this important scientific research to a broader audience.