Maybe you’ve never heard of a rainbow parrotfish or a golden lion tamarin, two of the world’s 16,306 endangered species. And that’s one of the reasons why U.K.-based designer Bryan James created a beautiful new “interactive exhibition” that includes them–it’s a chance to learn about these species, and maybe get inspired to help, before they completely disappear.
In Pieces, James’ new website, profiles 30 endangered species through morphing, puzzle-like polygons that arrange and rearrange themselves to form the shape of each animal through some complicated code. It’s mesmerizing to watch, and as each animal appears, the site also explains why the species is endangered and charts the current population.
“Their existence probably isn’t even known in the first place, so if a person then hears one day ‘x has become extinct,’ it sounds awful, but the mental connection isn’t already there to have an emotional impact to that kind of horrible news,” he says. “Then I just think it’s very important that people know the stories, some of which are really interesting and saddening, behind why they find themselves under such threat.”
The coding behind the site is impressive–each animal is composed from the same 30 puzzle pieces that morph between coordinates. “It’s quite complex to explain without getting into deep code, but let’s say it was quite a lot of work to create these triangles,” James says.
James made the site because he wanted to experiment with coding CSS polygons, and realized that using the shapes as puzzle pieces could be a useful metaphor. “The polygons of each animal representing the fact that their existences lie literally in pieces,” he says. “From there, I allow the pieces to tell the story visually by flowing them and at times, bursting to create a thoughtful moment that there is a real issue here.”