Signal Festival celebrates Earth Day with an installation at Prague’s Výstaviště

A series of illuminated boxes using data and NASA photos tells the story of the earth’s changing environment.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 22.04.2021 14:18 (updated on 22.04.2021)

To mark Earth Day, the Signal Festival of light art has placed an installation in Prague’s Výstaviště. The Room of Change, by the Italian studio Accurat, tracks the changes in the earth’s environment. The installation will be accessible from April 22, which is Earth Day, until April 28, always from noon to midnight on the Brussels Road in Výstaviště, near the new playground.

This is the first of several events planned by the organizers of the Signal, who hope to have a full festival in October.

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970, when more than 20 million people gathered in various parts of the United States to advocate for a healthier environment. It was first celebrated in the Czech Republic in 1990. Currently, Earth Day is commemorated by more than a billion people across the world.

The Room of Change was originally created for the 22nd Triennale Milano, held in 2019. Signal Festival, with the support of the Italian Cultural Institute, has updated and adapted the work so that it could be exhibited in a public space.

“We are extremely happy to be able to return to the streets or, in this case, the park. This year's Signal Festival will be different than ever before. No one now dares to predict what the situation will look like in the autumn, what will be possible and what will not. That is why we have also prepared a number of smaller events for this year, such as the celebration of Earth Day,” Signal Festival director Martin Pošta said.

“We have a lot of plans. But I must admit that we can't wait to meet the festival visitors. The Czech cultural scene has been really busy for the last year. People lack art. Therefore, we had to use the first possible opportunity to relax and go to the public space, " he added.

The Room of Change tracks changes on earth by projecting images from NASA's archives that record the planet's changes over the past 20 years and through a data tapestry illustrating the change in our environment over the past few centuries.

By combining various data sources depicting the world from a global, as well as local and individual perspective, the art work tells the stories of people and the changes of our surroundings over time. The data create a picture of the world at a given time by showing changes to world population, average temperature, disease rate, energy consumption, and the like.

It also looks at specific stories representing the consequences of these vast phenomena such as the disappearing Aral Sea, the decline in life expectancy in Cambodia during the civil war, or the rapid change of South Korean export from local agricultural products to modern state-of-the-art technologies.

Accurat is an international studio invested in the research of data, design and innovations. It is located in Milan and New York and has a team of 35 scientists, analysts, designers and developers.  

Also for Earth Day, Prague City Hall will not light the almost 1,700 illuminating nearly 50 of its monuments. This is meant to symbolically draw attention to the problem of light smog and its negative impact on man and nature. Among the included monuments in the center will be the Týn Cathedral, the Petrin Lookout Tower, the Vyšehrad National Monument, and Charles Bridge. Further from the center, this includes the ruins of Baba and the churches of St. Martin in Řepy or St. Cyril and Methodius in Nebušice.