Dutch artist Thijs Biersteker has developed a machine that shows the emissions associated with everyday online activities from video chats and emails to trading NFTs as visible puffs of CO2.
The MB>CO2 installation comprises three monitors, each displaying a different computer window, such as a Zoom call or Spotify playlist. These monitors are connected to a mini-computer that uses an algorithm to calculate the carbon emissions associated with each activity in real time. The algorithm then triggers the release of the corresponding amount of carbon dioxide gas into a spherical terrarium. The installation allows viewers to dial into the installation, giving the installation an interactive element. As the concentration of CO2 in the terrarium rises, the plants inside begin to wilt, providing a visual metaphor for the impact of our internet use on the planet.
Biersteker has tried to reduce the installation’s environmental impact by constructing it from 95% recycled steel and using low-energy consumption screens and a LattePanda Alpha single-board computer. The artist hopes that his installation will encourage people to think about the environmental impact of their online activity.
Artist: Thijs Biersteker
Production: Woven Studio – Produced in a sustainable way,
supplied with a material passport for future recycling
A collaboration between:
Studio director: Sophie de Krom
Build and engineering: Thijs Biersteker, Bastiaan Kennedy
Creative technology: Alice Stewart
Construction: Bastiaan Kennedy
Soundscape: End of Time & Thijs Biersteker
Studio assistants: Theo Rekelhof, Amba Bharti, Nathan Pottier, Madelief Broekman
Film and editing: Nic Kroone
Special thanks to: Belén Vera-Raya, Corine Muller-Bauer, and Hein Muller
Support received from: Cultuurmakersfonds
Thijs Biersteker (NL) creates art installations that provoke insight into the ecological challenges ahead. In his practice, he collaborates with the world’s top scientists and institutions to turn their climate data into art installations that make the overwhelming challenges ahead accessible, understandable and relatable. He holds a Fellowship at the VU University in Amsterdam, has shaped the course of art Ethics & Empathy at the Delft University of Technology (NL). He is a 3 x TED speaker and has exhibited at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain Paris (FR), Today Art Museum (CN), the Barbican Centre (UK) and many more.