1. “Rowan Leaves,” By Andy Goldsworthy
Andy Goldsworthy has been an environmental artist in Scotland for about 30 years. He often uses flowers, leaves, mud and stones in his work, and is renown for his absolutely stunning creations. He accepts that his pieces inevitably disappear, but argues that “change is the key to understanding.”
3. “Inflatable Animals” By Joshua Allen Harris
Joshua Allen Harris ties plastic bags to the air vents on the streets of Manhattan. When air from passing subway cars pushes up and inflates them, they transform from pieces of trash into artistic polar bears or Loch Ness Monsters. Harris’ work comments on litter in a surprisingly uplifting way, and who wouldn’t walk into work with an extra spring in their step after a confrontation like the one above?
4. “The Blue Trees,” By Konstantin Dimopoulos
In 2005, Dimopoulos chose to raise deforestation awareness in Australia by using water-based pigment to color tree trunks and branches. The blue pigment was meant to make the trees more visually shocking, so as to properly emphasize how our survival depends on them.
5. “The Vertical Landscape,” By Ryo Yamada
Ryo Yamada’s “Vertical Landscape” did a lot more than just look awesome. Made of synthetic fabric, the installation was located in the courtyard of a historical building in Sapporo, Japan, where the swaying columns were meant to “evoke a range of emotions in visitors meandering within the space.” And doesn’t it look just perfect for meandering?
6. “The New York Waterfalls,” By Olafur Eliasson
In June of 2008, Olafur Eliasson was commissioned by the Public Art Fund to make 4 waterfalls in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Governor’s Island. The whole project cost $15.5 million, and at night the waterfalls glowed with energy efficient LED lighting. Many New Yorkers want them back because they made “enjoying the outdoors” an acceptable date option.
7. “Preserve Conserve,” By Jill Chism
In 2008, Jill Chism printed the chant “preserve” and “conserve” in salt on the Cape Hillsborough National Park in Australia to make beach goers consider the harm we can cause to marine life. Obviously we all love sea critters so Chism’s message isn’t exactly a hard sell.
8. “Stellar Axis: Antarctica,” By Lita Albuquerque
Lita Alburquerque enlisted 51 volunteers in 2006 to help lay down 99 blue spheres to mirror the southern constellations on Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. She hoped to get us to pay attention “to the larger stellar movements and their energy.” But it’s too bad the spheres aren’t there anymore, because Antarctica looks like the perfect place for dodge ball.
9. “The Melting Vitruvian Man,” By John Quigley
Greenpeace hired John Quigley to recreate Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man on some ice near the North Pole in 2011. Their goal was to get people thinking about climate change and the melting ice caps (even if it was after various jokes about being cold). But unfortunately, our dependence on night lites is probably why he’s not around anymore.
10. Helen Evans And Heiki Hansen’s “Green Cloud”
It’s pretty easy to understand why Helen and Heiki’s “Green Cloud” won the 2008 Ars Electronica Golden Nica award: every night for one week, a green laser would encircle the the emissions from the Salmisaari coal burning power plant in Helsinki. It’s no Bat-Signal, but it’s probably the closest we can come to having one in real life.