American, b. 1971
Vital Signs, 2018
Weather station, painted aluminum, mirrored aluminum, and wood
20 x 30 x 30 ft. (609.6 x 914.4 x 914.4 cm)
Courtesy the artist
Vital Signs is an interactive weather station, whose nine elements refer to the disappearance of Arctic ice and the way scientists study its decline in a shifting climate. The shape of each element recalls the storage tubes used to house ice core samples collected by paleoclimatologists to study climate history. As the dark blue area on each cylinder grows, the white surface diminishes by thirteen percent per cylinder, which corresponds to the predicted decrease in Arctic sea ice per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. Likewise, each cylinder gets taller in reference to the predicted 33 millimeters of sea level rise per decade. These changes in color and height make visible the accelerated increase in dark oceanic water due to climate change, which results in further melting of arctic ice sheets—a phenomenon called the Arctic amplification effect. Vital Signs invites visitors to engage with the collection of data, and to experience the temperature differentials between the dark and light areas as well as the volumetric change representing melted ice by interacting with each element. The instrument at the top of the pole gathers real-time climate data.