A few weeks ago, I visited the Arcadia Earth exhibit in NYC — a pop-up, augmented reality journey into our present and future world on climate change and pollution.
Once you step into the experience, you travel through dozens of rooms that model the ocean, the forest, the Arctic, and more. But here’s the catch — your augmented reality device (your iPhone or iPad) shows you the true reality of the world we’re living in.
You can really dive right in once you enter the first room. Enter into a beautiful oceanscape — it’s like you’re walking on the ocean floor! But open up AR and you’re swimming with a plastic lid manta ray, a plastic ray jelly fish, and a plastic straw fish.
AR hot spots all around every room tell you a little bit about what humans are doing to create the Anthropocene, from filling it up with trash, to warming up the planet and creating devastating consequences like extreme weather and storms.
Head into the jellyfish forest and discover that the jellyfish are not only made of plastic bags (beautiful artwork!!), but open your AR to find that you are actually waking through (and swimming in) microplastics everywhere.
A giant plastic wave shows how much plastic Manhattanites throw out every day. A colossal plastic bag room reminds us how many plastic bags are used per minute in New York State (44,000, if you’re counting). A forest scene, complete with a heater, reminds you which plants will be around once we’ve cooked the planet.
The installation also explains how to be more eco-friendly too: don’t use chemical sunscreen, say no to plastic water bottles (PLEASE) and use less plastic (PRETTY PLEASE), cut down on meat to help with carbon emissions, and how to watch what you wear to help with sustainability, too (this blog post has been in my drafts for a while — stay tuned!).
And more on what we’re doing to the planet: an explainer on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (my favorite of the Garbage Patches), what overfishing does to the oceans, how food waste plays a major part in methane emissions, and more.
At the end, you walk through protest posters to a halogen light section where you can vow to do things like eat less meat, use less plastic, and just simply care.
What will you vow to do?