Intersections of Art and Science

Dive Into Artist’s Beautiful, Sobering Visualization Of NASA Water Data – Forbes Magazine

“Art can serve as an exceptional vehicle for fostering a deeper understanding of pressing issues,” (Yiyun) Kang, a visiting lecturer at London’s Royal College of Art, said in an interview. “I also believe the role of art is particularly crucial in addressing highly complex issues like the climate crisis, which demand collective efforts from everyone.”

Looking at the satellite images side by side, it’s impossible to miss the difference. In one shot, China’s largest freshwater lake brims with bright blue, while in the other, large swaths of dry lakebed appear where water once was. Traditionally, Poyang Lake swells during summer months, but in the summer of 2022, a prolonged heatwave and drought left it desperately parched. NASA’s images, taken about six weeks apart in July and August of that year, starkly capture the lake’s descent to levels far below those typical for the season.

It’s alarming sights like this that drive “Passage of Water,” South Korean artist Yiyun Kang’s new interactive art project that highlights how human-driven climate change and overuse are depleting Earth’s supply of freshwater, a vital but limited resource. The project can be viewed online at Google’s Arts & Culture hub. It’s also being presented at the COP28 climate conference, where it’s visible in Dubai Expo City’s Blue Zone as a large-scale wall and floor projection….

Kang spent a year as a Google artist in residence in the company’s Heartbeat of the Earth program, which tasks artists with addressing the climate crisis. “Having done some initial research into the topic of water, it became clear that there is not enough communication about this issue, and a general lack of awareness about it,” said Clare Brooks, program manager at the Google Arts & Culture lab.

Kang earned a doctorate in information experience design from Royal College of Art, and her background is evident in her rich digital landscape of expanding and contracting water droplets, intricate visualizations of NASA hydrology data and illustrations of potential solutions to the freshwater crisis so vivid they could be at home in a video game.

Scrolling around the online version of “Passage of Water,” haunting ambient music plays over Kang’s visual interpretations of data from two NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory missions. GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experience) launched in 2002, flying two spacecraft in tandem to track the movement of freshwater around the planet for the last two decades. You can explore Earth’s freshwater supply over those 20 years through Kang’s swirling, spinning timeline of moving shapes. Blue represents gains, red indicates losses…

In collaboration with Google Arts & Culture and NASA

“Dive into the Passage of Water, a three-part interactive experience that vividly illustrates the alarming reality of our planet’s dwindling freshwater reserves.

The experience explores why freshwater is such a precious resource, how NASA data can help us understand what is happening to our lakes, rivers and reservoirs, and some possible solutions we can use to avoid a water crisis.
By interacting with Passage of Water’s storytelling and visuals, everyone can learn how our activities and the shifts in our climate are impacting our water budget across selected places around what world such as Egypt, Pakistan and Alaska, and to discover how technology can support solutions, adaptation and mitigation methods that can help us secure this vital resource for the future.”

Also of Interest:

Google Arts & Culture (11-27-2023):
Yiyun Kang: Passage of Water | Heartbeat of the Earth | Google Arts & Culture

In collaboration with NASA Jet Propulsion Lab and Google Arts & Culture, the artist Yiyun Kang has created an online interactive experience that explores the issue of freshwater scarcity that the world is facing today. It interprets data from NASA and proposes solutions, adaptation and mitigation recommendations that we are or should be using to combat the freshwater depletion, now.

SIWI – Stockholm International Water Institute (12-02-2023):
Passage of Water: A Deep Dive into Discovery, Engagement, and Action

Passage of Water: An interactive session on how data, technology and art can catalyze the restoration of vital wetlands, aquifers and rivers. Deep dive into NASA satellite data, innovative technology and visual interpretations in the digital project by artist Yiyun Kang, NASA and Google Arts & Culture.

(Yiyun Wang’s talk begins at 20:53)

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