Artists are creating interactive music videos to show the effects of climate change
Music can affect us in visceral ways. For three to four minutes at a time, a song can transport you to a new place or get you wrapped up in an experience that you might otherwise never have or a situation you may never have experienced. And, well, there is no situation that deserves more our of attention than climate change. The Earth is changing because of how we have treated it, filling the atmosphere with greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. A song isn't going to change that, but it can help us to experience it in a fashion that may resonate in newly meaningful ways.
Undercurrent seeks to take the emotional power of music and pair it with visual art in a way that will give people a new perspective on the climate crisis. Opening in a 60,000-square-foot studio space in Brooklyn, Undercurrent is pairing some of the most noteworthy names in music with climate-focused nonprofit organizations to create interactive 3D music videos. These videos are meant to draw attention to all the ways the planet is changing around us, with the goal of motivating us to take action.
Undercurrent will run from Sept. 9-26, and will include installations from more than 40 artists including Bon Iver, Grimes, The 1975, Jorja Smith, Khruangbin, Miguel, Actress, Aluna, Jayda G, Mount Kimbie, and Nosaj Thing. The experience includes sustainably sourced farm-to-cocktail beverages and carbon offset credits with each ticket. Undercurrent is also working with Ocean Conservancy, Kiss The Ground, and Global Forest Generation to help address the climate crisis.
To give you an idea of what to expect at the physical exhibit, Undercurrent and its partner artists created fully digital 3D experiences on a variety of climate topics. Below, we've included exclusive previews of some key videos, as well as links to each artist's full 3D experience.
Canadian artist Jayda G gave us the retro feels with her interactive experience, crafting an 8-bit style video game to teach viewers about regenerative agriculture. People can actually play the game — taking on the role of a person trying to climb a mountain — all while listening to never-before-released music from the house DJ. Depending on the path the climber takes, the music will distort to reflect the "dystopian or utopian path" taken, per Undercurrent. This game is a partner effort with Kiss the Ground, a nonprofit focused on biodiversity and promoting regenerative agriculture, and you can play it here.
DJ and producer Nosaj Thing was born in Los Angeles, so he is no stranger to the ocean. It's fitting, then, that his music video for Undercurrent focuses on the sea and what humans have managed to do to these essential bodies of water that cover the planet. With his original electronic track playing in the background, the music video lets viewers navigate the ocean, learning about the critical role that plankton and other seemingly small aspects of the ocean ecosystem play in our lives. They can also see how pollution and waste can destroy this rich landscape. Nosaj Thing and Ocean Conservancy are hoping to use the video to encourage people to participate in ocean clean up campaigns. Watch it here.
Having grown up in Wales, dance and electronica artist Aluna is no stranger to the effects of deforestation. Luckily, her home nation has also dedicated itself to the cause of reforestation and efforts to repopulate essential ecosystems. Her music video puts viewers in a virtual rainforest and lets them reconnect with nature in a new way: As the video progresses, the scene changes from serene to apocalyptic, as building complexes and technology tear away the forest and present the troubling future that could be ahead if we fail to act. Aluna and partner Global Forest Generation seek to encourage reforestation efforts around the world. See the full experience here.
London-based electronic group Mount Kimbie takes on the dwindling population of bees and how that will affect our planet. Over the course of the interactive experience, viewers will play the role of a bee navigating a rapidly degrading world, desperately seeking a flower to pollinate as fewer and fewer exist. Partnered with Kiss The Ground, Mount Kimbie's 3D video encourages regenerative agriculture programs. Take on the role of the humble yet essential bee here.
British musician Actress — real name Darren Cunningham — is also drawn to the vast sea in his video, which seeks to impress upon views the "immense damage caused by deep sea rare earth mineral mining, pollution, and sonic pollution," per Undercurrent. The video will force viewers to navigate trash pollution in the ocean as they experience the myriad ways humans can harm our planet's waters. Actress's video is a partnership with Ocean Conservancy. Explore the deep sea here.