Thomas Medicus’ shard glass installation tackles climate change

The ‘binary human animal’ challenges the Anthropocene

In a creative and thought-provoking response to the protracted climate change discourse, Thomas Medicus’ art installation “Human Animal Binary” depicts four fragmented illustrations of it animal species facing threats of destruction. Made of industrial materials such as e.g glass, concreteand metallic, richly detailed images of a lynx, bee, kingfisher and river trout intertwine in a system of 144 glass strips within a cube-shaped space.

As a result, an optical illusion emerges and as observers make their rounds sculpture, and the two-dimensional representations disintegrate into a cloud-like cluster of image fragments and then reassemble—like a continuous emergence and disintegration of living creatures. Ultimately, the piece with its changing aspects, is designed to confront passers-by in public sphere, and invoke the debate about a contradictory dilemma in which much of humanity finds itself: human habitats harmfully coexisting with nonhuman animals.

due to disease, pesticides and air pollution, many bee colonies are dying | all images courtesy of Thomas Medicus

thomas medicus brings fragmentary shards to innsbruck

Addressing the decades of scientific and political debates about problematic human interventions in nature and the lack of significant success of the debates to bring about a reversal, Austrian artist Thomas Medicus responds with a symbolic and discursive contribution through a visual installation. The anamorphic sculpture ‘Human Animal Binary’ is initially a low-threshold intervention with a strong experiential dimension. Combined with the idiosyncratic representations of animals, his illusionistic techniques fulfill an affirmative task in conveying the incomprehensible of life.

Additionally, this artistic treatment is accompanied by a text on the biodiversity crisis. Starting from the corresponding visualization, an arc is drawn to larger ecological contexts. The connection of locally specific phenomena and global processes is expressed in it.

Thomas Medicus' optical illusion installation made of shards of glass tackles climate change
the fragmented aspects become coherent once the observer circumnavigates the installation

an optical illusion based on medieval design techniques

The title “Binary Human Animal”, as well as the use of industrial materials, refer to the anthropocentric dilemma of harmful human intervention in non-human animal habitats and ecosystems. The countless image fragments of the sculpture were further made with the help of the stained glass technique that existed since the Middle Ages, where the colors are burned into the surface of the glass and can last for many centuries, despite the fragility of their support. material.

The construction of the sculpture generated approximately one ton of CO2, which a mature fir tree takes fifty years to bind. Meanwhile, a maximum of two tons of greenhouse gases can be emitted per capita per year to make the human species climate neutral. This limit is now often exceeded in industrialized countries. “Would it be better not to produce the Human Animal Binary at all because of this built-in contradiction?” asks Thomas Medicus.

Thomas Medicus' optical illusion installation made of shards of glass tackles climate change
kingfishers are directly affected by declining fish populations and insect mortality

Thomas Medicus' optical illusion installation made of shards of glass tackles climate change
Lynxes have been largely extinct since the 20th century, often being shot simply for their fur

Thomas Medicus' optical illusion installation made of shards of glass tackles climate change
cyclist circles the facility

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