Tina Finnas header image 1

Like there was no tomorrow

January 6th, 2010

Like There Was No Tomorrow.

Plexi glass, electric lifts, plastic plants, carbon dioxide meters, computer, speakers

Four plexi glass modules, artificial plants and a sun. Together they create an oasis where a small, pulsing activity can be discerned. The activity might me more intense, since the installation constantly gets input from a carbon dioxide meter. The more carbon dioxide in the room the more activity – the plants will grow and the light will be more intense.

Tina Finnäs’ work always has a “good feeling”, she looks for the beauty. Like There Was No Tomorrow visualizes life and eternity, a dawn when everything is born and dusk when the sun sets. The installation follows this cycle, from sunrise to sunset, to the tones of Lou Reeds Perfect Day. Finnäs still wants to remind us that this is a fragile beauty. The Earth is a resource we borrow but also rapidly consume.

(Text by Björn Norberg from the Visual Voltage Catalogue)

”Like There Was No Tomorrow is an installation produced by artist Tina Finnäs and the Interactive Institute for Visual Voltage, a traveling exhibition commissioned by the Swedish Institute. The exhibition “communicates an understanding of energy in a broader sense that aims to increase the interest in energy consumption and environmental questions”.

The artificial plants, the grinding mechanical noise they make as they grow and the light that changes as the installation cycles from dusk to dawn accompanied by Lou Reed’s Perfect Day call for an immediate emotional response. Beyond the visceral Like There Was No Tomorrow deals with the dark side of energy consumption; rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

A meter in the installation measures the carbon dioxide (CO2) level in the exhibition space and causes artificial plants in the installation to grow as the level rises. The CO2 level is directly related to the presence of humans as well as traffic and industrial activity in the area. Real plants may just like the artificial plants in the installation prosper from increased CO2 levels but ironically, though they may produce more flowers, seeds and fruits, their nutrition value will decrease and we will have to eat more to get the same nutritional benefits. [1]

An internal “carbon dioxide clock”, similar to the one at co2clock.org but based on historical data and trends*, is used as a seed for random movements among the plants. If values from the clock were to be plotted over time they would form a steadily rising curve that begins where the Keeling curve ends today.

“The [Keeling] curve has become one of the iconic images of science, rivaling the double helix or Darwin’s sketches of finches. Society might first come to know that its efforts are paying off when measurements taken at Mauna Loa and its companion stations reveal that the Keeling Curve is no longer rising, but at last, is sinking”. [2]

Finally a small display in the installation shows a year corresponding to the year when the global atmospheric CO2 value will be the same as that measured by the installation, assuming that CO2 emissions continue to rise as they have lately. In other words assuming that we carry on like there was no tomorrow, ignoring the entire climate issue and continue to consume new sources of coal, oil, and natural gas**.

Like There Was No Tomorrow and the Visual Voltage exhibition will be shown in various locations throughout Asia, Europe, USA and South America during 2008 to 2011.

Made with:
openFrameworks, Arduino, DMX LED Lights, Linear Actuators, CO2 Meter

Project team:
Tina Finnäs, Erik Sjödin, Henrik Berggren and Rouzbeh Delavari / Physical Interaction Lab, Johan Strandahl and Kladji Shoshi. Sponsored by ELFA and SenseAir.

* The CO2 clock and the year calculations are based on the assumption that the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 observed over the last five years (starting at 2007) continues at 2.0 ppm (part per million) per year, and a seasonal cycle with an amplitude of 2.5 ppm. The display shows a year in the future as long as the measured CO2 level is greater than the current global atmospheric level (385 ppm at the time of writing). The year can potentially rise to 2815 which corresponds to a CO2 level of 2000 ppm. [3, 4, 5]

** This is not a realistic scenario, we ignore the fact that we eventually will run out of fossil fuels.

“The next hundred years … depends on how successful we are (or not) in decreasing emissions. This plot shows emissions under “business as usual”, under the ASSUMPTION that we are not successful stopping emissions and ignore, for whatever set of reasons, the entire climate issue. A further assumption is that in that scenario the total amount burned will be twice what is now considered to be the global reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas, namely two times ~1000 billion metric ton Carbon … For comparison, cumulative global combustion from 1850-today has been about 340 billion ton C. Notice that in this projection, which also ASSUMES an initial growth of the rate of burning of 3% per year (observed during the last five years), we will reach the maximum rate of consumption in ~2050, when we will have burned half of the total resource. Presumably, after that point it gets progressively harder (expensive) to pull stuff out of the ground, as the history of oil extraction in the U.S. appears to demonstrate”. [Pieter Tans]

Watch Like There Was No Tomorrow on YouTube here

Tags: 2008 · 2009