An imperfect toaster and a parade of pylons offer fresh takes on the world around us. This new series of interventions reveals hidden stories behind some of the Science Museum’s best-loved exhibits – as well as showcasing work from emerging and established artists. Ten Climate Stories takes a long view of our climate changing world – where all is not what it seems.
1. Blazing Entrails
The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century demanded huge quantities of natural raw materials, such as coal and iron ore, which had taken millions of years to create. In a few decades, huge mines, ironworks and coal-burning steam engines seemed to be brutalising an apparently idyllic, timeless landscape.
2. March of the Pylons
In the 1920s and 1930s a national grid of power cables, carried on steel pylons, was built across Britain. For some, they were gross intrusions in the natural landscape. For others, such as film-maker Paul Rotha, they represented a new power to replace the ‘Smoke Age’ that had polluted and disfigured Britain.
3. Earth from Space
The American space programme began in 1946, when a series of captured German V2 rockets were fired from a test facility in the New Mexico desert. Reaching heights of over 95 km (60 miles), they were the first vehicles in space.
4. The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites
Pulling apart the cheapest toaster he could find on the high street, designer Thomas Thwaites wanted to unveil the complexity hidden in the everyday objects we take for granted. So he set about building his own toaster from scratch by mining and processing all of the raw materials himself.
5. New Landscapes by Yao Lu
At first glance artist Yao Lu’s photographs look like traditional Chinese landscape paintings. But closer inspection reveals these beautiful landscapes to be towering mounds of rubbish covered in green netting, receding into the distance as far as the eye can see.
6. Longplayer by Jem Finer
Longplayer is a thousand-year-long piece of music composed by Jem Finer that began playing on 31 December 1999. As the new millennium approached, Finer wondered if it was possible to 'focus the mind on time as a longer and slower process than the frenetic jump-cut pace of the late 20th century'.
7. One Thousand Motorcars
This photograph shows the output of a single nine-hour factory shift. As far as the eye can see, Model T motorcars are crammed into a parking lot. In just one day in August 1913, Henry Ford’s plant had made one thousand cars.
8. Antarctic Adventure
In 1958 the British scientist Vivian Fuchs returned from leading the world’s first land crossing of Antarctica, which had used four Sno-Cats including the one on display. His journey had been perilous. Storms hampered visibility, and the route was littered with icy ridges and deep, hidden crevasses.
9. The Mighty Atom
When the US Army Air Forces dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the world received an abrupt wake-up call to the awesome power locked up inside atoms. The Cavendish Laboratory apparatus on display was used in the bomb project.
10. The Whole Earth
The photograph of the whole Earth, taken in 1972 during the last ever Apollo lunar mission, is probably the most widely reproduced photograph in history. It changed the way we felt about the effects of human activity on the planet.
Science MuseumExhibition Road
London Greater London United Kingdom SW7 2DD
For directions, see http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/gettinghere.aspx
Open from 10.00 - 18.00 every day except 24 to 26 December. Last entry 17.15.