Public art installation “Warming Warning” engages timber, color, and shadow to stoke dialogue over climate change

Harvard Forest Fellow David Buckley Borden (MLA ’11) has installed public-art sculpture “Warming Warning” in Harvard’s Science Center Plaza, aiming to inspire both dialogue over climate change and viewer engagement with the shape-shifting, participatory exhibition. Borden collaborated on the project with Harvard Forest Senior Ecologist Aaron Ellison and Harvard’s Office for Sustainability and Common Spaces. The project is on display through December 7, 2018.

Borden presented “Warming Warning” on October 22 alongside Harvard Graduate School of Design MLA degree candidate Hannah Lyons-Galante, a member of Harvard’s recently launched Climate Leaders Program for Professional Students, with an afternoon talk entitled “Climate is Global, Change is Local.”

A visitor interacts with "Warming Warning"
A visitor interacts with “Warming Warning”

“Warming Warning” represents climate change as a series of painted triangles constructed from hemlock timbers that were harvested and milled at the Harvard Forest. The structure, which measures 28 feet long and 12 feet tall, experiences shifts in shadowing and color-spectrum vibrancy as the sun rises and sets throughout the course of a day. From its sides, the installation presents information about climate change: one side charts the rise in global-average temperatures since 1880, while another side presents four different future scenarios based on CO2 emissions.

Harvard’s Office for Sustainability supports the project as part of the University’s ambitious climate action commitment, including new science-based goals striving to be fossil fuel-free by 2050 and fossil fuel-neutral by 2026.

The model for the installation was on view at the Rhode Island School of Design this past spring, and at the Urbano Project as part of its “Proposed Futures; Then and Now” show.

Visit “Warming Warning” through December 7, and follow the exhibit on social media via #WarmingWarning.