Arcadia Earth turns environmental issues into immersive art

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Underwater scene with glowing blue lights.
Arcadia Earth turns environmental issues into immersive art


How do you bring attention to climate change in a world of shortened attention spans? One idea: Turn it into an selfie moment. Consider artist Valentino Vettori’s Arcadia Earth, an immersive installation in New York City that guides visitors through the current plight of the planet in the form of 15 photo-ready rooms.

Working with a dozen environmental artists, including Samuelle Green, Tamara Kostianovsky, and Etty Yaniv, Vettori crafted the exhibition to bring environmental issues to life by combining “human scale art installations” with “augmented and virtual reality”.


David Mitchell for Arcadia Earth

Each of the 15 rooms have been transformed to spotlight a different ecological issue—ranging from overfishing and plastic pollution to deforestation and climate change—with installations made from upcycled materials and reusable components.

An “underwater” hall lets visitors observe shrinking coral reefs, while in another room, a swarm of glowing, plastic jellyfish dangle from the ceiling. A room filled with fishing nets gives humans a real-life taste of what’s happening to sea life down below. Another room, designed with the artist Basia Goszczynska, is a cave made from 44,000 recycled plastic bags—the number of bags used in New York state every minute.


Cave made from plastic bags.
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David Mitchell for Arcadia Earth

The maze of ecological horrors glows with colors and lights, creating a tension between appreciating the beauty of the experience and the rapid loss of natural wonders. After wandering through the room, visitors are encouraged to linger in a petition signing room where they can write their own personal vows about how they’ll help make a difference.

Arcadia Earth is open until January 2020 and costs $33 for a ticket.


Glowing panels with green and orange pattern.
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David Mitchell for Arcadia Earth



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