Thiel artwork and photo image
Installation view of “Gardens of the Anthropocene,” 2016, Tamiko Thiel, American, b. 1957, geolocative augmented reality installation, Seattle Art Museum 2016 Commission, photo: Nathaniel Willson.

Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park is a beautiful place to watch the sun set over the beach. But last summer, some park visitors downloaded an app and saw a disturbing vision of the park.

It was part of an augmented reality art installation called “Gardens of the Anthropocene” by artist Tamiko Thiel. She created an imaginary future in which plants have mutated to cope with erratic climate swings.

An artist's augmented reality app shows plants mutated to cope with #climate change. Click To Tweet

Thiel: “And it was hitting this combination of delight and a little bit of fear that I was hoping to provoke.”

Thiel portrayed native plants that are expected to flourish as temperatures rise. But she merged reality with science fiction.

A pink flower called “farewell to spring,” looked like it had fingers that could grab you. Blue camas, another flower, spun in alarm. Harmful red algae became huge, menacing spheres that hovered by the water’s edge. And bullwhip kelp flew around the park – indicating the threat of sea-level rise.

Thiel: “This sort of dystopian feeling that I’m trying to create is to unsettle people and make them wonder, ‘well, you know this is clearly over the top, but I wonder what will happen?'”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

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