Immersive installation reflecting the global food system now on view at The New York Botanical Garden

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Immersive installation reflecting the global food system now on view at The New York Botanical Garden
Installation image of “Around the World’s Table” at The New York Botanical Garden. Courtesy The New York Botanical Garden.

NEW YORK, NY.- An artful, immersive data visualization installation created by renowned information designer Giorgia Lupi and her team at Pentagram is now on view at The New York Botanical Garden as part of the garden-wide exhibition Around the Table: Stories of the Foods We Love, examining the art and science of foodways and food traditions and celebrating plants as foundational to all culinary customs.

Around the World’s Table will help visitors understand the global impact of food production and consumption on the planet. On display in the reflecting pool of the Palms of the World Gallery in NYBG’s historic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the installation is made up of 100 partially submerged sculptures representing the major food groups we consume, their share in the global diet, and their relative carbon footprint.

This is the first data sculpture conceived by Lupi, who is known for her human-centered approach to data visualization and storytelling.

“Our starting point for this project was to illuminate what we eat and where it comes from, with the aim of cultivating a deeper understanding of the potential and maybe even surprising impacts of food choices,” said Giorgia Lupi, Partner at Pentagram. “Ultimately, we want to spark questions. Where does our food come from? And how do our choices affect the planet—now, and in the future?”

Using the basin of the pool as a metaphor for the world, the size of the installation reflects the percentage of the world’s habitable land used for agriculture—roughly 50%. The color, height, placement, and features of the sculptures visually represent 2019 data on global food production and consumption gathered from the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization and Our World in Data—an open-source knowledge-sharing platform for scholars and researchers.

The work will be accompanied by a detailed legend to help visitors decode the installation and engage with the layered data behind it.

“We have an opportunity to tell nuanced and complex human stories with data. The parameters we chose to represent in the sculpture allowed us to offer multiple visual narratives for the visitor to interrogate and inquire on their own terms,” said Lupi.

Lupi, whose work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and has been exhibited in museums around the world, is a pioneer of data humanism, an approach she defines as transforming the abstract world of data into something that can be seen, felt, and tangibly connected to human behavior.

At a time when the U.N. has warned of a global food shortage, Around the World’s Table reveals the environmental impact of our food choices.

“Around the World’s Table offers visitors to NYBG a unique opportunity to visually understand how the food choices they make can have far reaching environmental impact” says Jennifer Bernstein, CEO and The William C. Steere Sr. President of The New York Botanical Garden. “I hope that visitors to our summer exhibition of Around the Table: Stories of the Foods We Love will spend time with this illuminating work of art, and the related exhibition components on view at the Garden. We can all contribute to a healthier and more sustainable future through the everyday choices that we make about the food on our tables.”

The installation will be on view through September 11, 2022.

Giorgia Lupi

Giorgia Lupi is an award-winning information designer whose work synthesizes data and storytelling in innovative ways to create unique and singular visual expressions. Since 2019, she has been a partner at Pentagram, the international design consultancy. In her practice, she designs engaging data-driven visual narratives across print, digital and environmental media that create new insight and appreciation of people, ideas, and organizations. Her vibrant and inspiring design work has empowered leading global organizations—such as Google, IBM, TED, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—to achieve their missions through data-driven storytelling.

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