Olafur Eliasson’s new app lets kids morph into the environment

The artist’s new AR project Earth Speakr sees children around the world transform into plant life, plastic bags and other inanimate objects as they share their thoughts about the environment

Known for his interactive works focused on climate change, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has launched a new AR project called Earth Speakr that puts the next generation at the heart of the conversation on climate change.

Developed with the help of AKQA, Earth Speakr uses augmented reality to blend children’s faces with objects or materials in their surroundings as they literally speak up on behalf of the environment.

The videos can be created using the Earth Speakr app and then uploaded to the website, where they form part of a virtual map of responses.

The result is charming and often amusing at first glance. However, as Darcy Prendergast’s animation made during the Australian bushfire crisis demonstrated, hearing a child speak about the climate emergency drives home how desperately sad the situation is.

“Earth Speakr is a collective artwork that invites kids to be artists,” Eliasson explained in a statement. “The artwork is made up of their thoughts and visions, concerns and hopes. What they create can be playful and whimsical, serious or poetic. There is no right or wrong, and it is easy for everyone to take part. Earth Speakr invites kids to speak their hearts and minds and participate in shaping our world and the planet, today and in the future.”