Rising sea levels mapped across London through art

By Tierney Smith

A new exhibition in London aims to raise awareness of the threat of climate change induced sea-level rise on the city.

A joint project between Arts Admin and the London International Festival of Theatre, the Plunge Project invites Londoners to look forward 1000 years to the year 3012, and see the effects of sea-level rise on the Capital.

LEDs are wrapped around three London monuments at 28 metres above sea-level

Michael Pinsky, the artist behind the project said: “We will be marking the water line on some of the most iconic monuments in London so that people can see between the columns as to get an idea of where they stand.”

The exhibition will include three monuments in the city: the column at Paternoster Square, linking St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Stock Exchange; the Seven Dials Sundial pillar which sits in the heart of Covent Garden’s theatre district; and Duke of York’s column, overlooking St James’s Park and just yards from Buckingham Palace.

Pinsky explains his reasoning behind these three monuments. For him they mark the UK’s imperialism and a point in history when our lifestyles began to shape into what we know today.

“The monuments were chosen because they mark a time in history, where we began consuming a lot more than before,” he said. “At the beginning of the industrial revolution, industries became about peoples’ consumption and we began living beyond our means.

“Not just over using our own resources but over using other countries resources too,” he added.

A string of low LED lights will be wrapped around each of the monuments, at 28 metres above sea level. The organisers of the project say this point marks a time, 1000 years in the future when sea level rise will have changed London beyond recognition.

The installtions give passers-by a sense of how London could be effected by climate change

It aims to show how much some of the city’s most historic and iconic monuments and buildings could be affected over the next 1000 years.

The 28 metres guide was chosen from the latest scientific evidence in how extreme sea-level rise could become with severe climate change.

“Twenty-eight metres was chosen from looking at scenarios which have been set out in the science,” Pinsky explained. “While it may be very unpredictable, it is commonly agreed that if the ice caps melt, the world could see sea level rises as high as 65 metres above current sea level.”

“That is the very worst case scenario, and looking at the medium to worst case scenario you would halve that number and be looking at 42 metres rise.

“We went on the safer side of these predictions at 28 metres, so they are levels which are not unrealistic.”

Pinsky believes that art can have a huge role to play in engaging people with some of the biggest issues that we face.

“You have to put a marker on it, otherwise it is not perceivable. And with this project, it is like a fast forward – we are making how it could be in a 100 years,” he said. “It is saying this is where we could be and people don’t realise that until they see it.

“Science can provide us with the facts and figures but I think art can be incredibly effective at raising awareness.”

The bright lights can be seen across the Capital

With the brightness of the light, Pinsky says they should be hard to miss, making passers-by see the monuments in a whole new way.

Launched last night, the installation will now be displayed for the next 26 nights.

Contact the author on [email protected] or @rtcc_tierney.

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