Digital warmth: climate change and social isolation

Addressing how social isolation is perhaps increasing in a paradoxically networked society whilst climate change highlights a global connection of environmental responsibility to one other, Kin’s video and sound installation Brewing questions our role in models that foster loneliness and disconnect. 

A generative cymatic installation using water to visualise the changing frequencies of sound.

(Cymatics is the study of wave phenomena and their visual representations, Collins Eng Dictionary).

Sine waves controlled by real-time temperature data – shaped by the amount of people in the physical space surrounding the installation – explore what ‘warmth’ means; in digital, social and environmental landscapes. Recognisable symbols of domesticity and comfort (the simple cup of tea) ask how the mediums through which we offer gestures and communicate are changing, affecting how empathy and connection are revealed. Last year, the BBC’s Loneliness Experiment in collaboration with Wellcome Collection (the largest study on loneliness to date) found that people who feel lonely have higher levels of empathy – although lower trust in others – as well as having more online-only friends than those who report low levels of loneliness.

The shifting audio frequencies (some beneath the perception threshold of human hearing) are played via transducer speakers up through an array of tea cups arranged much like the WIFI symbol. The sound waves ripple the liquid surface upon which moving weather data is projection mapped, displaying humidity and precipitation forecasts, temperature maps and ocean currents from around the earth. This combination of real-time temperature measurements to control the sound and video of disparate forecasts connects both local and global, internal and external spaces.

Commissioned by artist and curator Aidan Moesby as part of his Emotional Weather Bureau.

R&D shared at ARC Stockton, April 2019.

Part of Kin’s 30-minute radio programme ‘An Inward Outlook: Loneliness and the Weather’ on Radiophrenia, CCA Glasgow, 13 May 2019.


Arduino with temperature sensor and LED temperature display screen

Click here for an approximate spatial diagram of set up (pdf)