Having developed an early prototype of the light-painting Pixelstick, new media artist Marius Richter (22) teamed up with photographer Skyguy Mok (19) to partner with the Hong Kong Observatory and DJI to conceptualize, plan, and execute this project after both of them experienced the destruction of typhoon Mangkhut in September 2018. This work was exhibited in Tai Kwun - one of the most prestigious art centers in Hong Kong.
Creative Director: Skyguy Mok
Tech Director: Marius Richter
Elements of the Future - Wind
Both we and what we treasure are consumed by the uncontrollable forces we help create. Severe typhoon Mangkhut, which the terrific vortex represents, destroyed this very scene shot in the serene natural retreat of Nam Sang Wai in northern Hong Kong. The brightness and thickness of the spiral visualizes strength of the wind mapped from 85km/h to the maximum 250km/h while the length of the spiral visualizes the duration recorded of such wind speeds.
Elements of the Future - Water
Drowned by awes of the virtual world, we are ignorant to rising seas even while we live by them. Around the area of the East Dam of High Island Reservoir, a UNESCO Global Geopark, these wave breakers were estimated to have withstood towers of crashing water taller than themselves during severe typhoon Mangkhut. The streaks of light painting represent the estimated water level during the typhoon.
While most of us are aware of the adverse effects of climate change, do we truly realize how vulnerable we are to extreme weather events? With long exposure photography and a new form of light-painting, we bring to light our false sense of security through stunning data visualizations. We hope to present this imminent threat to residents of even the safest, most urban cities by drawing their attention with gorgeous yet sinister streaks of light.
After experiencing the immense destructive power of the intensive typhoon Mangkhut in 2018, we realized how a city like Hong Kong once thought to be one of the safest places from natural disasters could be threatened by our changing climate. Following days of unbearable heat, this abnormal typhoon was a wake-up call for us that sparked our passion to act. Climate is the challenge of our generation, hence we can delay no further to tackle this challenge for our future, and the futures of all who will come after us.
Our call to action came when Skyguy, born and raised in Hong Kong, witnessed how the typhoon utterly destroyed the once serene and photogenic Nam Sang Wai in Hong Kong - where we used debris made by the typhoon as the set for our first picture: Wind.
Inspiration for the second picture, Water, came when Marius visited the grand and almost apocalyptic array of wave breakers that protect the East Dam of High Island Reservoir in Sai Kung, Hong Kong. We questioned the strength of even this colossal artificial barrier to resist the violent storms brought about by climate change.
The above sites represent natural treasures and the power of man respectively, illustrating how climate change threatens both of these invaluable assets we currently possess. Our images create an ambiguity of beauty and safety on climate change; that while our cities and our lives may appear thriving and secure, the hidden threats posed by climate change lie in wait.
To visualize the strength of the typhoon, we partnered with the Hong Kong Observatory to obtain wind speed and sea level data collected during typhoon Mangkhut. We then partnered with drone company DJI to custom-make the Pixelstick, a portable and programmable RGB LED lighting strip, to make long exposure light-paintings with custom images. Our images were then printed as large lightbox prints to be displayed to the Hong Kong public in the Tai Kwun Center for Heritage and Arts in Central.
All may seem well now, but the challenge has yet to begin. We believe it is paramount to visualize weather data to produce a comprehensive picture of the global climate challenge to the general public by combining the perspectives of the arts and sciences. With the ability to load any image into the Pixelstick, we see plenty of potential in our flexible and scalable method to work with other forms of data to further advocate the climate cause.