May, 2019

Designed to raise public awareness of present and impending climate change threats, and to create a call for action, Ouroboros is being developed by a collaborative team of people from many walks of life, including artists and scientists.

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Ouroboros is a scalable multiple-chamber walkthrough interactive sculpture composed of video, animation, music and sound, culminating in a communal lounge for the exchange of ideas. The project premiered at the Curfman Gallery at Colorado State University and was open to the public from June to September 2018 as part of the arts festival Off the Hook SummerFest.

Developed and curated by visual artist Kate Doyle, the installation is based on NASA satellite data and animations made from that data. NASA’s data is reimagined through an artistic lens by Kate and a creative team of people including scientists, musicians, designers, photographers, engineers, builders, policy makers, instrument makers, writers, lawyers, educators, and development professionals.

NASA climate data from satellites offer a direct and immediate visualization of global systems and scientifically detected changes in global climate. We plan to include live data from satellites where possible, streaming directly into the exhibition.

Presented together with this data we are developing sounds and imagery that reflect the awe inspiring vastness of the cosmos, the delicate balance of this planet, the interconnectedness of earth systems, and intimations of a human place within these systems.


Overarching Goal of the Ouroboros residency at GISS

Distill GISS science into art to empower people and create a call to action: through an open collaborative process between scientists and artists, GISS climate impact work is applied to the goal of public awareness, action, and protection (from extreme climate events). We aim to make complex ideas more accessible and show how they apply to people and policy making.

We aim to translate climate science into an interactive aesthetic experience that serves as a stepping stone for increased awareness of climate threats and solutions for those threats, creating a positive learning event that can lead to action.

GISS climate work will be featured in Ouroboros at future exhibitions, such as the AGU Centennial meeting and beyond. (AGU exhibition parameters now in discussion).

An important aspect of Ouroboros’ presence at GISS will be to incorporate Climate Impacts Group science into educational-art-science programs.

GISS residency Kate Doyle4.jpg

Specific Goals of the Ouroboros residency at GISS

  • The residency at GISS, and the highly collaborative interaction between artists and the Climate Impacts Group, will have a profound impact on the content of Ouroboros. GISS science will enrich and deepen the project, adding information on actual and predicted climate change impact on people’s lives. We will work with the scientists to craft practical, actionable messages for public servants and the public.

  • Development of public outreach media including a feature length documentary on Ouroboros with the goal of educating audiences on climate change issues, on how it affects people’s lives, and what are the many actions people can take.

  • Interactive social media channels can be developed for daily and/or weekly updates using video and text

  • The entire process could be housed on the Ouroboros website.

  • Details of the process can be recorded and developed into a published book (with permission).

  • We will be working with gallerists and curators on projects, such as editioned prints and original works for exhibition and sale. Questions on copyright and credit will be addressed formally in writing.


Intentions and Possible Process

Why make art out of the climate data? Beautiful work, easily appreciated by everyone, is attractive for exhibitors such as museums and schools. Touring shows, featuring Ouroboros iterations that offer an intense aesthetic experience, make art/science and information on the science of climate change more accessible. This brings concerns to the fore and proposes action, at an individual level and across multiple public platforms.


To begin:

  • Cynthia, Kate, and GISS scientists meet to outline general ideas, a realistic schedule, goals, and working methods. Kate show visuals of Ouroboros and absorbs initial GISS imagery

  • Kate and team compile information resulting from meeting with scientists

  • Scientists, individually or in small groups, meet with Kate. Kate presents visual material and ideas, gathers information on each scientist’s contributions, data, major goals and concerns; on how their science can extend what the Ouroboros team has done

  • Kate and team absorb detailed visuals, and sound if available. We begin open collaboration and experimentation

  • New ideas from scientists may change the work significantly (results could be video, realtime installation, objects, exhibited in pop-up mini shows, on the street, in museums, schools). Kate and team will react to the scientists’ ideas and respond with their own, which may in turn stimulate new ideas among the scientists

  • Artists and scientists could make experimental work together. New approaches are determined in consultation with the scientists

  • The artists return to GISS to share new work/ideas. Meet with individuals or groups; all participants assess the progress and needs/goals

  • Collaboratively we develop the educational program.

  • The residency work at GISS is intended to be exhibited on the Columbia campus; possibly at multiple venues. Media outreach will be developed in a close collaboration between GISS and the Ouroboros team.

Creative contributions from:
Artists: Kate Doyle, with Fernanda Dobal and Alison O’Reilly; contributions from Alexander Lyle, Sanjeet Ahira and Puneet Kaur Ahira
Engineering and materials: Kate Doyle, Alison O’Reilly, Mark Doyle, Alexander Lyle, Sanjeet Ahira, Nihco Gallo
Strategic planning and marketing: Suzanne Bresette
Project management: Catherine Keenan