SPECTRUM exhibit sheds a light on climate change

On Jan 24. THEMUSEUM officially launched the ALARM: Responding to Our Climate Emergency exhibit.

ALARM features a total of four exhibits, with the most recent one, SPECTRUM: The Climate Emergency Experience opening this past week at The Shops at Waterloo Town Square.

The other three exhibits are Agents for Change: Facing the Anthropocene, MELTING ICE and EXTINCTION, all of which are being hosted at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener.

“There were just so many points of conversation that we thought, ‘lets do four separate iterations of the overall theme of ALARM.’ The interactive one allows people to see climate change in a very unique way, as does Agents for Change… it just made so much sense that THEMUSEUM would shine a light on that and weigh in on [the] climate,” said David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM.

The first exhibit, Agents for Change: Facing the Anthropocene, is co-curated by Nina Czegledy and Jane Tingley and features works from female artists surrounding the theme of ecological change in relation to science, technology and art.

“Agents for Change: Facing the Anthropocene [is] art and technology at play at a very high level. It’s a wonderful, cool exhibition curated by two women and they have chosen ten women artists from around the world. So it’s a very world-class exhibition, and it’s very cool to see the new media art on display and it’s all talking about climate in a unique way around adaptation and about the future, so that’s kind of the number one exhibit at the museum,” said Marskell.

Despite the finished and fleshed out idea for the exhibit, the idea for ALARM: Responding to Our Climate Emergency, had started at a completely different point, explained Marskell.

“Just over a year ago, we were thinking about doing an exhibit on technology — women and technology — and we thought about doing women artists in tech work … sort of the art technology at play theme, but as we got into the conversation we quickly turned our attention to the importance of how we’re destroying this planet,” Marskell said.

Next is the MELTING ICE exhibit, which features photography from local photographers Ben Eby and Brian Riddell.

“Brian Ridell, he went to the Arctic and captured amazing photography of the icebergs and of the melting ice and so on, in the topic of our planet. And Eby, he went to the Antarctic and similarly took images of melting ice and captured waterways where, the last time he visited, it was sheer ice — it’s the first-time people have ever seen it melted,” said Marskell.

The third exhibit, EXTINCTION, features 8 live habitats of South American and exotic frogs as well as other amphibians and reptiles.

“It makes you look and see the wonderful things that we have on this planet that are disappearing at an alarming rate,” said Marskell.

“It’s very much an education based exhibition which allows our teachers or staff to talk to families, school groups visiting… it aligns with the curriculum of the province. So that’s pretty cool to see.”

The final exhibit, SPECTRUM: The Climate Emergency Experience is an interactive pop-up that features immersive installations, and is geared towards young adults and social media users.

Most notably, SPECTRUM features an immersive mirror exhibit that displays the words “Save The.” Underneath it, quickly rotating words appear and, upon photographing, one of the 900 words in the database appear.

“You need to stand there and take an image and see what word comes up for you … so it could come up saying “Save The Whales.” It’s kind of cool, it’s yours, it’s very personalized to you as you stand there and take the shot,” said Marskell.

“To me that’s one of the great examples of the interaction and the fun part of it because, you know we need to make change and everything, but it can’t be a dire conversation. We need to be able to experience this in our own ways to help us make change.”

Ultimately, Marskell said the signs that the ecosystem is collapsing are there and need to be addressed.

“If you go through it you will experience climate emergency in a whole different way… and my hope is that they’re talking about it — they’re talking about climate change and what they need to do, and what they need their parents to do, or what they need their teachers to do and that type of thing. But it is being very well received and at THEMUSEUM, we’re getting a real cross section of individuals,” said Marskell.

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