TIDAL is a data visualisation of concurrent tides in Sydney and its coastal sister cities: San Francisco, Nagoya, Wellington, Portsmouth and Guangzhou. The visualised tidal data is of the future – forecasts for the year 2050.
The tidal movements are depicted as a vertical array of LED neon tube lights, which change colour like pixels. Oscillating at 5000 times normal speed, the 12 months of tidal data is compressed into 1 hour and 45 minutes, looping like a recurring dream. Elegantly suspended mid-air, the breathing of the lights form an arresting yet calming experience, submerging us beneath the surface day and night.
We have long been able to predict the earth’s tides decades into the future, accurate to the minute and the centimetre. However, global warming, the dredging of river channels and the filling in of coastal wetlands are altering tidal movements that have long been considered stable.
With this in mind, the visualised tidal data is less a prediction of the future than a nostalgic artefact of a time when the world seemed more stable – when the predicting of tides depended exclusively on celestial forces far beyond our control.
These graceful sine wave motions of colour hovering within the city serve as a reminder. Although we are anxious about the future, our oceans will continue to rise and fall as they have for millennia, regardless of whether we are here to see them.
Listen to an audio description of Tidal in the following languages:
Tidal is best viewed at night.