But there's a lot more to this painting than meets the eye.
The mural uses augmented reality technology. In a few short weeks, passersby will be able to hold their phones up to any animal in the mural and see a short video using a soon-to-be-released app called the Anthropocene Extinction. There will be a video for each animal in the mural featuring music and narration that tells about the sixth mass extinction event, which some scientists say is happening right now and is mainly the result of human activity.
The colorful mural was painted by Miami artist Reinier Gamboa and created by Before It's Too Late, a nonprofit founded by MIT graduate students who use art and technology to ignite a sense of urgency about climate change. It is the second mural the group has created that features augmented reality technology. The first, unveiled last February, is near the train tracks at 1800 N. Miami Ave. It sends a shocking message about the threat sea-level rise poses to Miami.
The AR simulation shows viewers alternate futures. In one, the city is submerged, filled with collapsing structures and pollution. In the other, sustainable future, there are windmills, green infrastructure, and flourishing wildlife.
Both projects were spearheaded by MIT-graduate Linda Cheung, who moved to Miami from New York last year after leaving a career in finance to dedicate her life to a cause. With Before It's Too Late, Cheung seeks to use art and augmented reality to grab people's attention and tap into their empathy, getting a new wave of people to care about climate change.
"What I really want to do is enact change here in America," Cheung told New Times. "Climate change is often seen by Americans as something that is impacting the rest of the world, not them, but the impact of climate change is much more salient here in Miami."
The stunning murals draw people in; then the augmented reality videos grip them with chilling narratives, visuals, and soundtracks.
"Confronting climate change requires political and social will," Cheung said. "These murals are really about educating and inspiring the public to understand these issues and to raise their voices and demand these changes from corporations and the government."
For the augmented reality, Before It's Too Late has prepared short educational clips — like the one about Burmese pythons featured on the group's Instagram here — that will play on viewers' phones. At the same, they plan to make use of the 3D space these clips will be played in by having it look like the whole thing is being shown underwater, a nod to the imminent threat of sea-level rise looming over South Florida, with jellyfish and plastic floating around the viewer.
Once the augmented reality aspect of the mural is complete, Cheung will publish an app that can be downloaded from Android and iPhone app stores.
Some may question why invasive species like the Burmese python and lionfish are included in the mural. But that's exactly the point.
"For us, this mural is exactly what reality is. It's about the fact that right now in the same space you have invasive species, native species, endangered species, and humans," Cheung said. "We are all inhabiting the same space, and we need to understand the interactions these species have."
"The real culprit, the real invasive species, is humans because we're the ones who released them," Cheung said. "This mural is about so many things because