critical transitions

Critical transitions

Anna Gallés

An art installation about transformation
Lab Art Studio
C/ Enric Granados 15, Barcelona
1 - 28 july 2021

“We still understand remarkably little of the mechanisms that determine major transitions in societies, or that regulate the stability and resilience of the climate and ecosystems.

It is usually asumed that the response to an alteration of our planet will be gradual, predictable, and reversible. However, abrupt changes are occasionally observed in nature and society.

Complex systems, ranging from the climate to ecosystems and society, can slowly lose resilience until even a minor perturbation can push them over a tipping point.

Rapid transformations and massive shifts can often be explained as so-called critical transitions.”

From “Critical Transitions in Nature and Society” by Marten Scheffer (summarized quote).
Princeton University Press, 2009

Be water, my friend.

Bruce Lee, 1971

Photo: Enric Ballesteros
Photo: Eric Ballesteros

Alternative stable states in Pyrenean alpine lakes. Photos: Enric Ballesteros

Ecological theory considers critical transitions as “sharp changes from one state to a contrasting one, where a state is a dynamic system with its characteristic fluctuations and cycles” (see The Synergy Program for Analysing Resilience and Critical transitionS (SparcS).

Drastic transitions following a tipping point, when a critical threshold is crossed, are studied as universal patterns in complex systems, such as ecosystems, societies, the climate and the human brain.

In shallow lakes, transparent states can lead abruptly to green and turbid ones, responding to changing conditions in nutrient loading or trophic changes.

The installation is a biofantasy landscape, using real freshwater ecosystems as metaphors of the ever-changing nature of all things. We can see 3 mesocosms with contrasting stages of real ecosystems, turbid and transparent. Organisms freely create their self-stabilizing systems.

In an experimental project, the unexpected is welcome. The water and the moon are used as universal symbols of change. 

Does this resonate with us? How should we approach change, in the Anthropocene? How should we follow the watercourse way?

Art installation: Anna Gallés

Video: Tone Bjordam

Glassworks: 40Plumas

Aquatic plants: Viver Tres Turons

Bioacoustics: Oriol Baena

Assistant producer: Edu Márquez

LAB Art Consell de Cent 15, Barcelona. Beside Delacrem ice cream café.

Opening hours: From Monday to Friday 4pm – 8pm    

Otherwise, by appointment

new project: mayflies

In Spring, we see many mayflies in our home, which is an old mill beside a brook. Mayflies (Ephemeroptera) live in rivers and lakes, as immature nymphs. The winged adults breed and die soon thereafter. Their brief life tells us about cyclic change, and impermanence. And they are beautiful intricate fairylike minuscule creatures.

3D Mayfly swarm




3D printing


collaborative work

Glass swarm

Glass swarm
>200 glass wings
Finalist, Fundació Vila Casas Sculpture Prize.
Group exhibition, 2021.
Glassworks: 40Plumas 

cobalt mayflies anna galles

mayflies, cobalt blue