Temperature difference

2023 –

Temperature difference is a collaborative project together with scientist as a part of Fundamentalz. Toshiaki Ichinose is a senior research scientist at National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan. Hiroi and Ichinose seek various future scenarios related to climate changes from art and science perspective. Participants of Fundamentalz 2023 have public talks, lectures and exhibition through 2023 and 2024.

In 1990, Ichinose and his team published the future scenario research at UNESCO, aiming to predict what would happen in 2005, 2010, 2020, 2030 and 2050. Based on the point of present, he has verified what had happened. Hiroi wrote a science fiction short story reflecting on the present from the perspective of the year 2100, focusing on the disparity in people's attitudes toward environmental issues.

Concept, Research and Development: Kumi Hiroi and Toshiaki Ichinose Supported by: Fundamentalz Project Management Asako Hasegawa

AUGUST 1, 2020, 6:00 AM
Sunlight filters through the curtains, casting dappled patterns on the floor. I recently heard somewhere that "komorebi" is a uniquely Japanese word. There doesn't seem to be an equivalent English word for it; it's described as "the sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees." Expressing nonexsistent words is quite a challenge. Even though I can imagine the feeling of komorebi, articulating it is somewhat difficult. If only there were a single word to convey that sense of space, with leaves gently swaying, light streaming through gaps, and light and shadow dancing together as if sharing a secret joke.

Thin orange light filters through the cotton curtains. Through them, I gaze vaguely at the shadows of leaves. I have a meeting this morning and a lecture to give in the afternoon. I must hurry. Today's temperature isn't particularly high. It should be quite pleasant.

I slide my fee out from under the orange bed sheets and walk to the kitchen. I pour orange milk into an orange cup and gulp it down. I notice there’s no cereal left for breakfast.

Everything around me today is orange. I've been surrounded by it since birth, so I've grown accustomed to it. Orange plates, orange socks, orange toothpaste. Technically, my surroundings are always orange, but the shade changes daily. There's a gradient of colors, from deep purple to purple-tinged pink, red, orange, and yellowish hues. The warmer it gets, the more yellow it becomes, and the cooler it gets, the more purple. Even if I occasionally have the opportunity to explain this, I doubt anyone truly understands the sensation precisely, much like the word "komorebi." But it’s true: I can see temperature with my eyes.

AUGUST 1, 2100, 10:00 AM
She switched on the studio lights and glanced at the plants through the window. She had recently rearranged her workspace so she could directly face the greenery. Through the partially frosted glass, the plants seemed to gaze back at her. From her vantage point, she could see a vague greenish hue up to eye level, and above, distinctly overlapping leaves. There were leaves with dark serrated edges, light green round ones, and some stretching straight upward. For a moment, she stared at the green contours and muttered something about the supposed benefits for the eyes.

Her body felt sluggish from the suffocating heat of successive days. Had the temperature risen again? She was tired of the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors. Today, she wanted to finish the script... As she went to check the score, she looked at the figures before her. The small joy she felt from looking at the greenery burst like a balloon.

45.1. The available energy points were displayed in holography... It would likely be impossible to finish this script by the end of the month with these points. It had been three months since she received a message from a respected director asking her to write a script on the theme of "the invisible." Until last week, her points had been fine. Had giving in to meat last week affected her points? Or was it overworking, overproduction? In a moment, she reflected on her actions from last week.

In her country, the daily points available to individuals were determined based on their social contribution. Everyone was allocated a minimum number of points to sustain a basic life. However, what exactly constituted the absolute minimum was not clear. Many people, including herself, were dissatisfied with this system, but they accepted it as a fact of life since birth. She respected her parents who had spent many points to bring her into the world through this points system. Many people didn't even have the right to have children. It was all to reduce the world population. She stared resentfully at the score. The green outside the window basked in the dizzying sunlight.

AUGUST 1, 2020, 3:00 PM 
"Mom, do you think it's better not to tell others that I see colors in temperatures?" This was a question I often asked my mother as a child. Usually, my mother didn't give a direct answer to this question, but she listened carefully to me. She would say it was up to me to decide, depending on the time, place, and person. 

When I have to explain my vision to people, I summarize it as a kind of color blindness where I see colors associated with temperatures. Since the average human body temperature is around 37 degrees Celsius, it appears orange to me. If someone is in a cold place and, for example, not wearing gloves in the snow, their hands would be about 20°C, making them appear bluish-purple. By using the words 'color blindness' or 'color weakness,' people seem to understand my explanation. A friend of mine nodded approvingly and said, "So that's why your sense of fashion is so original." When I talk about seeing temperatures, people often ask if I can also see the movement of the wind, wondering if temperature and wind direction are correlated. Although wind doesn't have a color, I visually perceive the temperature changes it brings. For example, when I stand in front of a fan on a humid summer day, I feel the heat being drawn away by the wind. The skin temperature gradually decreases in a gradient of orange, red, and blue. 

There are things in the world that people want to see and things they don't want to see. Usually, things people don't want to see can be intentionally avoided. However, due to my perceptual ability, there are things I see even when I don't want to. When my grandmother drowned and died when I was a child, I was stunned as she turned blue. By the time we rushed to the scene, it was too late, and she slowly turned deep purple before our eyes. My heartbeat echoed with that purple color, and I thought my eyes would burst from the impending color and emotion, so I closed them.

AUGUST 1, 2100, 5:00 PM
A light rain began to fall, but she didn't even notice. Perhaps her focus on the script intensified due to the limited energy points. Today's weather forecast hadn't predicted rain, and it would likely stop soon anyway. Tiny droplets clung to the surface of the window glass, trembling as they slowly trickled down.

Friend: "You studied physics at university, right?"
Meteorologist: "I studied physics at university, and meteorology in graduate school."
Friend: "Do you get angry phone calls when the weather forecast is wrong? Sounds stressful."
Meteorologist: "Forecasts are forecasts, so they're not always accurate. I think it requires not only being able to logically understand the essence based on physical laws but also some flexibility in perception. There isn't always a definitive answer." 

She tries to recite the meteorologist's lines from the script aloud. After work, the meteorologist meets an old friend from university, and they talk about their recent lives while having drinks at a nearby izakaya near the station. The setting is in the 2020s, 80 years before the present, in a world before human attitudes toward the environment became visible and were implemented in society as they are today. They led a life without the constraints of environmental aspects as seen in our reality. They went where they wanted, ate what they liked, and bought what they wanted. Although not as serious as now, heavy rains and floods due to global warming were common. However, they see environmental protests and demonstrations on TV as something that happens in "other countries." 

Meteorologist: "Do you remember the heavy rainfall in Hokkaido?"
Friend: "Hmm, when was that? About 20 years ago? It was a record-breaking downpour in Sapporo, right? Record-breaking... I've heard that a lot lately."
Meteorologist: "My grandmother passed away during that short but intense rainfall. The time from the Toyo River dike collapse to the flooding of the city was shorter than expected. The delayed warnings also contributed to the extensive damage. That's what sparked my interest in this field."
Friend: "I see..." 

"It's almost time to stop working, or else the score will decrease," she calls out to her assistant. "Right, let's change the lighting to a relaxing color to improve your mood," the assistant replies, and the light shifts to a warm orange hue as the curtains close.

AUGUST 1, 2020, 10:00 PM 
It seems I forgot to close the curtains when I left the house. I turn on the lights in the room and notice it. I pour sparkling water from the fridge into a glass and drink it in one gulp. Despite having a few drinks tonight, my head feels oddly clear. Being with old university friends makes me realize how much I and the environment around me have changed. Through many repeated choices, I find myself far from where I started. I pour myself another glass of water. The student I once was is now the person responsible for giving public lectures. 

As a meteorologist, I am sometimes asked to give lectures on the impact of global warming. Usually, it's the local government that asks me as a specialist to address citizens' concerns. It's a civic lecture of about two hours. I explain the extreme climate changes, the rise in sea levels, and the ecological consequences caused by global warming, resulting from the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Additionally, I introduce adaptation measures to global warming, such as urban planning and housing tailored to the climatic conditions of the local environment, and disaster management for events such as typhoons. 

There are always lively discussions afterward, but I must honestly say that I don't believe a majority of citizens engage in such activities. The participants are usually affluent individuals who have the luxury of time. Can people busy with their own affairs pay attention to the slow but steady progress of global warming and the worldwide climate changes? Despite incidents such as cases of heat stress leading to hospitalization and natural disasters like typhoons close to home, surprisingly little connection is made to the human-caused climate crisis. One day, it dawns on me how far we have come.

AUGUST 1, 2100, 11:00 PM 
She closes her eyes and reflects on the meteorologist. He intuitively perceives temperature visually. As a result, he experiences the changing of seasons more deeply. He finds the world beautiful. However, many people perceive the world he sees as clouded by color filters. He doesn't worry about it. He can imagine and enjoy a world that he himself cannot visually perceive. Yet, he also feels anxious. Although he has been accustomed to visually perceiving temperature differences in real-time since childhood, it still evokes stress. He feels alienated by seeing something while others pretend it doesn't exist. 

Why don't people try to see the invisible? Does the invisible not exist? That couldn't be true. Even though her assistant, who changed the light in the room to soft light, is invisible to the eye, she can still hear her voice. She exists somewhere, connected to her. In the present of 2100, weather forecasts are her voice. All weather information is analyzed by artificial intelligence, optimized in collaboration with demographic and economic data, and relayed to her. But recently, she saw news about human meteorologists bringing forth unique, interesting ideas. And those ideas didn't come from the usual artificial intelligence. If this wasn't fake news, it was certainly thought-provoking. Then you could market human intelligence as 'superior.' It made her dizzy.

She closes her eyes again and imagines the world as the meteorologist sees it. A gradient of yellow, orange, red, blue, and purple.