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"Carbon Dioxide" Cube Debuts in Copenhagen

December 14, 2009

By Alanna Malone

Each month, the average person in a developed country emits one metric ton of carbon dioxide; a U.S. resident emits that amount every two weeks. But what does that number amount to? “The CO2 Cube: Visualize a Tonne of Change” is meant to help people envision their carbon footprint, while also serving as a forum for the dissemination and exchange of ideas.

The cube sits on St. Jørgens Lake, outside the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Photo © Joshua Brott/courtesy Millennium Art
The cube sits on St. Jørgens Lake, outside the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen, Denmark.
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Designed by L.A.-based architect Christophe Cornubert and Denmark-based artist Alfio Bonanno, the multimedia artwork is currently on display in Copenhagen to coincide with the United Nations’ global warming conference, or COP15, held from December 7 to 18. The cube represents the space that one ton of carbon dioxide, measured and stored at standard atmospheric pressure, would occupy.

Cornubert and Bonanno oversaw construction of the cube on the waters of St. Jørgens Lake outside the Tycho Brahe Planetarium. Roughly the size of a three-story building, the 27-foot-by-27-foot-by-27-foot structure is composed of 12 Titan shipping containers that will be recycled after the event. The structure sits on a custom-engineered floating platform, with a total weight of about 24 tons. Those involved in the installation intend for it to be carbon-neutral and hope to accomplish this with offsets and other tactics.

Beyond symbolizing CO2 emissions, the cube features digital imagery intended to get viewers thinking about energy consumption. Two weather-proofed projectors are mounted on top of the neighboring planetarium so that artwork, news clips, and Web content can be projected onto two sides of the cube. “It’s a fusion of data sets, personal video, and art,” explains Travis Threlkel, creative director of Obscura Digital, a digital media provider involved in the project.

On Tuesday, December 15, a live debate produced by CNN and YouTube will be broadcast on the cube. The public is invited to submit questions and vote on their favorites by December 14; the winning questions will be answered by the debaters, who include various climate change leaders and activists.

"The CO2 Cube" is presented by San Francisco-based Millennium ART in partnership with the United Nations Department of Public Information, Obscura Digital, Google, and YouTube.

Clarification: The original story did not mention that Travis Threlkel is the creative director of Obscura Digital, a digital media provider. Also, Google, YouTube, and Obscura Digital should have been identified as partners, not sponsors.

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