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Carbon Cube, 2017, Kimberly Duncan

By Sustainability Office on April 18, 2017

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6’3”x6’3”x6’3”, wood, chalkboard paint

The installation, Carbon Cube, is a visual representation of the volume of carbon gas each individual at Colgate University emits every 48 hours. The cube’s size is based on Colgate’s 2016 Greenhouse Gas Report, conducted by the Office of Sustainability. It is made of wood and painted with chalkboard paint. This cube is inspired by a similar project was finished in 2009 by Christophe Cornubert in Copenhagen. Cornubert created a cube (27’x27’x27’) that represents the amount of carbon an individual in the US emits every two weeks.

I created this cube to contextualize the meaning of carbon emissions for the Colgate community. As an environmental activist and sustainability intern, one of the greatest challenges I encounter is communicating reminders of our daily impact on the environment, both as an individual and as a community. As an artist, I want to convey this impact in a meaningful way that resonates with people. The Carbon Cube’s solid black mass is a heavy reminder that our daily carbon emissions are real and lasting. It calls passersby to confront their environmental impact and compels them to reconsider their relationship with the Earth. Additionally, I chose to paint the cube in chalkboard paint to invite people to respond to the piece.  My aim is that the cube will undergo a transformation over its installation. The responses written on the cube will reflect the attitude of the campus towards their carbon footprint. With every response, the light chalk replaces some blackness of the cube and represents the hopeful change in behavior of our community as we are reminded of our impact.

With climate change being such a pressing issue, it is vital that those with relative privilege be accountable for their environmental impacts and are charged with the responsibility of aiding those who are experiencing the negative effects of climate change. As a private institution of higher education, Colgate has the potential to be a national example of a sustainable community. Additionally, with Colgate’s carbon neutrality deadline approaching in 2019, it is important that we, as a community, take the time to cut carbon emissions on our campus. Colgate has the responsibility and ability to reach meaningful carbon neutrality by fostering an environmentally sustainable mindset in its students, staff, and faculty as well as self-imposing institutional changes to cut resource use and carbon emissions. Hopefully, this cube will reinforce the importance of this process and motivate our community to reach our goal.


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