Orbacles is a triad of spherical environments that connect visitors to the reality of climate change through the story of birds in Minnesota and the language of our senses. As both a record and a speculation about the future through the end of the century, Orbacles communicates the current and anticipated shift of birds due to species loss and migration related to climate effects.
Orbacles is a physical visualization of the data scientists use to understand climate change. Each of the 147 bird species found in Minnesota in the Climate Change Bird Atlas is represented as a module – an individual birdhouse, feeder, or bath – with a hood that is sized to be proportional to the typical length and wingspan of the species (data courtesy Patuxent Bird Identification Infocenter).
By 2100 the world will have changed in ways that are hard to imagine. Scientists often compare multiple alternatives, since the future depends in part on the choices we make today. The future scenarios represented in Orbacles come from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The scenarios describe future worlds that range from very rapid economic growth and technological change to high levels of environmental protection, from low to high global populations, and from high to low greenhouse gas emissions.
Orbacle A | Shelter shows the current situation, using birdhouse modules. Orbacle B | Feeder shows a low emissions scenario that reflects “high level of conservation and reduction of CO2 emissions,” using bird feeder modules. Orbacle C | Bath shows a high emissions scenario, assuming that “the current [fossil fuel] emissions trends continue for the next several decades without modification,” using bird bath modules. To read the data and compare the different scenarios, look for changes in color compared to Orbacle A. Blue means the species will become more prevalent in the future; Orange means that the species are expected to become less prevalent in the future (data courtesy the Climate Change Bird Atlas).
Orbacles was designed by the interdisciplinary design collaborative, Minn-Lab, of which, members of HouMinn are a part.
Minn-Lab (members of Minn-Lab for this project were Ross Altheimer, Andrea Johnson, Daniel Keefe, Maura Rockcastle, Marc Swackhamer, and Aaron Wittkamper) and assistance from Patrick Moe, Mahdieh Mahmoudi, Justin Berken, Kirk Davis, Kristen Murray, and John Rasmussen
City of Minneapolis / Northern LightsAdditional funding: University of Minnesota Digital Design Center and M.G. McGrath | Photography: Marc Swackhamer, Liam Matteson, Chris Savage, Zheyang Yuan