One of our main aims at Drawing United is to bring to you, the facts, the data if you like about environmental issues such as plastic pollution or climate change.
This is often challenging due to the colossal amount of ‘flat’ data out there, which will probably means almost nothing if it isn’t presented to you in any sort of way that makes it more readable therefore understood.
Alicja Biała & her environmental data-driven sculpture is just trying to do this. Her nine-metre tall six public sculptures, called Totemy, use climate change statistics which result to a different ‘shape’ for each of her artworks.
These totems, which stand in the public walkway beneath the Bałtyk tower in Poznań, Poland, are a great way of visualising data.
For example, this totem pole on the right shows how much water is used in the production of 1 kcal of different types of food.
Meat production (especially the production of beef) needed to feed an entire population uses significantly more resources such as water, energy or agricultural land than growing vegetables, fruit or cereal. Moreover the meat production industry is responsible for the emission of 58% of greenhouse gases as a result of agricultural activities while producing only 18% of the calories of food.
Head to Alicja Biała’s website for more information as to what these totems represent in terms of climate change
This is what Alicja Biała says about how she came to choose what issues to highlight in her work –
” It took a while to select topics and it was quite a dynamic process. In the beginning, a broad spectrum of issues was contemplated. We wanted to create six pillars of different natures, but of equal gravity.
In terms of civilisation, in many respects we have been going in the right direction in the last decade. However, the opposite unfortunately must be said about the environmental condition of the Earth. Therefore, due to the critical situation of human influence on the environment, we have decided to concentrate on this topic.
The next step in creating the totem poles was to select and verify the data and its sources. We took great care to make sure that information we used came from reliable sources.”
One sculpture represents the volume of plastic produced worldwide in comparison to the amount that is recycled. Another tower compares the use of water in farming meat versus the amount used to produce vegetables. They stand in the public walkway beneath the Bałtyk tower in Poznań, Poland.
Biała worked with architect Iwo Borkowicz to produce the wooden structures and opened her workspace each weekend to host events to help share the story.
A QR code on each tower explains the data behind the visualisation, providing passersby with multiple layers of experience. The sculptures are a permanent installation.