Can you feel a global problem with your hand?
Climate change is a tricky thing to notice.
It can feel far away and at a pace too slow to notice personally.
So artist Olafur Eliasson created an icy wake-up call.
With 12 icebergs echoing the shape of a clock in Copenhagen's City Hall Square.
Marking the publication of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change is a difficult task. One oceanographer distilled one 2,000 page piece of it into a series of 19 illustrated haikus.
But Olafur approached it in a visceral way through his installment called "Ice Watch."
Pieces of the Greenland ice sheet from the waters of a fjord were lassoed and shipped to Copenhagen.
Then they were set in a public square next to more permanent monuments.
We're used to seeing serious, monumental works of art in public squares. By placing a circle of temporary pieces of ice there too, Olafur references the clock tower and alludes to how time is clicking away on this very pressing issue.
The public was encouraged to touch the ice in order to *feel* climate change.
Rather than the weight and permanence of a regal statue — with like a bronze figure on a horse or a fancy fountain — people were faced with massive, cold blocks of ice that melt and drip away at our touch.
"As an artist, I am interested in how we give knowledge a body," Olafur said in a statement. "What does a thought feel like, and how can felt knowledge encourage action?"
Olafur's work definitely has a different feeling than a UN report that's thousands of pages long.
"Perception and physical experience are cornerstones in art, and they may also function as tools for creating social change," Olafur said. "We are all part of the 'global we'; we must all work together to ensure a stable climate for future generations."
Art can add an intriguing dimension to a subject that, to many, can seem very dry.
What would it be like to feel climate change as a fact with our own hands? Can we feel present about the effects of fossil fuel use?
These are questions we need to ask ourselves as we continue our use of fossil fuels. Thankfully, it's art pieces like this that keep this issue in the front of minds and maybe find a way into more people's hearts.
Check out the installment in action to see how folks "feel" climate change: