Having previously worked with Accurat for MoMA’s 2017 blockbuster show Items: Is Fashion Modern? Antonelli once again turned to us to dream up, design, and build a dataviz artwork that encompassed the sweeping scope of her exhibition. We set out to draw a timeline that traced human interactions—with other people, with ideologies, with science, nature, etc.—to show incremental effects on the environment.
Stationed at the entrance of Broken Nature, our contribution would foreground the entire experience for visitors. It would also complement two large, freestanding screens projecting NASA photography of coastline–shifting changes to the environment, clocked over the course of 20 years. This type of imagery, which shows environmental degradation on a geological scale, is the type that most often accompanies reporting on climate change. With our dataviz, we wanted to provide contrast to the grand–scale of the projections with a work that brought the crisis “down to earth” in a capacity that people could understand and identify with.
To divide and conquer the challenge of charting human history from 1000 B.C. to 2400 A.D., we narrowed our focus to eight broad subject areas. We then broke down these categories further, into more tangible (and measurable) phenomena or events. Stacking these histories, we assembled the shell of a grid with time on the X-axis, flowing from left to right.
Within each "Macro Topic," we focused on one geo–specific issue and two global subjects. For instance, under the umbrella of "Nature," we traced the disappearance of the Aral Sea in the Middle East, as well as humans’ impact on the environment and the effects of climate change. A section covering "Happiness" illustrated cases over time of depression in Uganda, and tracked worldwide consumption rates of tobacco and alcohol.