October 18, 2014, by Lucy

The Prediction Machine

Last week the Environment and Society research group in the School of Geography was treated to a seminar by artist and researcher Rachel Jacobs. Rachel mainly talked about her most recent commission that came from Radar Loughborough University Arts with support from the Geography Department at Loughborough University – ‘The Prediction Machine’. Rachel was one of three artists commissioned to produce a piece of work in response to Loughborough University’s weather station as part on the Nowcasting initiative. Over the last few months I’ve been able to attend a number of the workshops that have fed into the development of Rachel’s final artwork and so was particularly interested to know how the final installation had turned out.

The Prediction Machine woodland workshop

The Prediction Machine woodland workshop

The workshops included a tour of the Loughborough University woodland, writing climate prediction, and felt mapping of climate scenarios. Many of the themes that Rachel has been considering are ones that are also featuring in our project:

  • The accessibility/inaccessibility of climate data
  • Engaging the public with climate and weather
  • Memories of weather events
  • Recording the weather

More reasons why we were understandably keen to hear about how the work has developed. ‘The Prediction Machine’ takes inspiration from end of the pier fortune telling machines, is partly powered by the user through a crank handle, and the lights react to the current weather conditions. On inputting your age, and cranking the handle, a crackly video appears in which you’re told about memories of past weather as well as predictions for the future. After the video finishes a personalised printed prediction pops out. Each printed prediction includes a code that you can enter onto the website to find out more about the data the prediction is based upon. The prediction uses the current weather data and adds it to a scenario for future climate in 30 years time, 2044. Rachel describes The Prediction Machine as a “new interactive artwork that marks ‘moments of climate change’ in our everyday lives, tracked and recorded by a machine that prints out predictions based on end of the pier fortune telling machines”.  The Prediction Machine

The Prediction Machine, Pilkington Library, Loughborough University

The Prediction Machine was unveiled at the Pilkington Library at Loughborough University on 1st October where it stayed until the 15th. It moves to Loughborough Library on Granby Street today where you can see it until Saturday 25th October. So do pop in and have a go if you live locally. We’d love to know what prediction you got! For those further away there is also an online version: http://www.timestreams.org.uk/ After Loughborough, Rachel is hoping that the work will tour to other venues around the UK – check the project website for details.

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