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Bright lights,
rising tides

Words: Anne-Marie Hoeve

Photos: Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho

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Global warming means rising sea levels. We know this, but it remains hard to register. That’s where Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho come in. Their illuminating art installation gets the message across loud and clear. And in raising awareness, hopefully their work can help turn the tide.

The Uist islands in the Scottish Outer Hebrides feel a long way from the troubles of the world. But when it comes to future sea level rises, there’s no hiding – and low-lying coastal communities like this will be the hardest hit. It is here that artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho have created an art installation that calls attention to the threat using an unusual tool: sheer brilliance.

With every incoming tide, glowing beams of white light up in the fields, across the shore and even on buildings, to reveal projected sea levels. The beams are like beacons, keeping the darkness at bay. At the same time they invite us to see what we can no longer ignore: global warming is on our doorstep. This is no serene spectacle; it is a stark call to action.

As Pekka Niittyvirta says: “Art has the potential to convey scientific data, complex ideas and concepts in a powerful way, when words or graphs may fall short. Also, LED-light resonates with the contemporary consumer society at an individual level, and perhaps, through this work, people can better visualise what might come.”

The work, called Lines (57° 59’, 7° 16’ W), was commissioned by the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre in Lochmaddy, which is already confronted with recurrent flooding and coastal erosion. Some 6,600km away, on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, the artists installed a similar exhibition in Miami Beach to highlight the global scope of this issue which affects us all. It is through iconic works like this, seen and shared by millions, that awareness breeds change. Why not spread the word and amplify the impact?


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Thoughts from our community

— 23.03.2022

When Al Gore, Bill Gates, and John Kerry sell their ocean front properties then I’ll start to worry.

Greg K.
— 21.03.2022

If you think the sealevel itself is the problem, you’re missing the point. Millions will be displaced from seaside cities … they will seek refuge at higher locations. If you are not affected directly then you will be by the masses coming to your backyard.

Mike W.
— 21.03.2022

Huge decline in insects and many other species, poison in the sea, the orcas are going sterile, poisoned bees, soooo much plastic waste, rain forests nearly all gone, human greed and population explosion ever increasing, we are well on the way to our own extinction.

Jackie A.
— 17.03.2022

How many years does this installation have to remain before we decide it no longer predicts the future.

Andrew D.
— 19.03.2022

People believe things are the same now as they will be 100 years from now. Look back 100 years. No internet, no phone, no heat pumps, no jets, etc. Look 100 years from now. Digging coal and drilling oil will be more expensive. However, solar panels will be cheaper and more efficient. Cold fusion will be a reality and cheap green energy will be abundant. There is harm in speeding it up. Look at the instability of NATO because of its dependance on Russian oil. Why? Because they went green too quick and oil is still needed to guarantee energy needs 100% of the time.

Shawn G.
— 19.03.2022

Obama has bought himself a nice house at sea level… (Martha’s Vineyard) so … I don’t think it’s that dangerous 😂

Jessica van S.