Living with CO2

Living with CO2 brings carbon dioxide into the familiar through revisiting known objects, such as a sundial and a scale, designed to interpret the external world.

Due to human activities carbon dioxide levels are rising, causing the Earth to become warmer. New scientific discoveries provide knowledge which challenges past insights on the topic. This rapidly developing science can be seen as uncertain, which limits the understanding of the individual and therefore their ability to act. At its current measured levels, carbon dioxide has no smell, no tangibility, and no colour. However, it has an impact that can clearly be observed.

This project materialises the gap between the unseen and the tangible by using one of the byproducts of photosynthesis, wood, as a medium. Photosynthesis intake of carbon dioxide varies with the seasons, affected by the Sun's rays. By relating seasonal actions to the carbon cycle, changes become relatable and doubt can be embraced. In time, this can formulate new ways to comprehend and experience the science of carbon dioxide.

The project is based at Stave Hill Ecological Park in London.

Seasons —
  1. Autumn
  2. Winter
  3. Spring
  4. Summer

Objects — 
  1. Carbon Scale 
  2. Wood Wishes
  3. Silvered Coal 
  4. Sun Logs

Project by Rebecca Lardeur

Seasonal Carbon Cycle, Barrett Bellamy Climate

Carbon dioxide levels fluctuate during the year as the Sun changes its path, influencing photosynthesis. It is at its highest point in May, and its lowest in September. 

This is partly due to the Sun’s impact on photosynthesis, the organic absorption of carbon dioxide in plant matters. Seasons bring different temperatures and amounts of daylight as the Sun changes its axis,  leading to different levels of carbon dioxide.

Analemma, the annual path of the Sun seen from Earth, with the carbon levels according to the months

This project looks at the sun movements to propose new relationships with carbon emissions based on the seasons.

1. Autumn

Carbon Scale
Made of London Plane wood found at White City

September marks the lowest point of carbon levels in the year. The summer ends with the peak of carbon absorption by photosynthesis. Living with CO2 proposes a tool to calculate the carbon dioxide absorption in green wood to give value to the unseen.

If you know how much carbon value is within the wood, how would you treat it? 

Caring for wood, i.e: in oiling it for it to last longer, helps slow the decaying process and captures carbon for a longer timeframe. 


2. Winter

Wood Wishes
Twigs found at Stave Hill Ecological Park, oak from Herdfordshire

As winter settles in, biomass reduces its volume. Trees loose their leaves so as to rest and restore for a new cycle. It is a slower and introspective time of year. Often a time of gatherings with friends and family on religious calendars, Living with CO2 proposes a new ritual at Stave Hill Ecological Park, one where you can make a ‘Wood Wish’.

    1. Pick up twigs at Stave Hill Park found on paths (don’t go disturbe natural habitats)
    2. Cut them to identical size
    3. Paint half in the colour you would want
    4. Tie them together
    5. Hang them at the Treasure Map spot on the top of the hill

Through the making of a ‘Wood Wish’, one can formulate new routes for the new cycle. Time to reflect for a new year and to plan actions for spring.


3. Spring 

Silvered Charcoal
Made from Binchotan Charcoal and silver plated; stand made out of Oak and London Plane

Spring starts and the sun stays out longer. Its warmth is felt. Carbon dioxide levels have been rising still the previous Autumn, and it is only in May in which the levels will reduce due to photosynthesis byproducts. 
    For this new growth, Living with CO2 proposes an amulet to carry: a piece of charcoal silver plated. 

Charcoal is another state of trees. It is traditionally used to heat homes or draw. As charcoal is mostly pure carbon, it is an easy way to relate to the element and to silver plate is to do ‘carbon capture’ in a symbolic way. It is also a cheaper option than diamonds, another jewelery composed mostly of pure carbon.


4. Summer

Sun Logs
Made from London Plane wood from White City, London

Summer brings long sunny days and low carbon dioxide levels. Carbon dioxide is a key ingredient for organic growth through photosynthesis, bringing fruits, flowers, and else throughout the season while reducing carbon emissions. If there is a time to collectively celebrate the benefits of the sun, Living with CO2 believes it is then. 
    To honour the sun, a sundial and stamp of the analemma are made as celebratory tools for the summer solstice celebration, and to take in the longest day of the year.