The experience of walking through the Pollution Pods demonstrates that our world is interconnected and interdependent – we feel, taste and smell the environments that are the norm for a huge swathe of the world’s population.
Five geodesic domes are connected to form a ring. Within each dome the air quality of five global cities is recreated. A carefully mixed recipe emulates the relative presence of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide which pollute these cities. Starting from the hosting city, the visitor passes through increasingly polluted cells, from dry and cold locations to hot and humid.
The release of toxic gases from domestic and industrial sources both increase the rate of global warming and have a direct effect on our present day health. In the West, in cities such as London, one in five children suffer from asthma. Whilst in the developing countries such as Delhi, over half the children have stunted lung development and will never completely recover. However, this pollution is difficult to understand through images, as the smog of such as Delhi seems almost romantic and much of the most dangerous toxins are not visible at all.
Much of this pollution is driven by the insatiable appetite of capitalist consumerism. Whilst we here in the developed world live in an environment with relatively clean air, people in countries such as China and India are being poisoned by the air borne toxins created from industries fulfilling orders from the West.
The experience of walking through the pollution pods demonstrates that these worlds are interconnected and interdependent. Our need for ever cheaper goods is reflected in the ill health of many people in world and in the ill health of our planet as a whole. In this installation we can feel, taste and smell the environments that are the norm for a huge swathe of the world’s population.
The Pollution Pods were developed as part of Climart an interdisciplinary and international research project, which has brought together environmental psychologists, natural scientists and artists in order to investigate how environmental art functions as a tool for climate change communication. The Climart team collaborated with chemists at the Norwegian Institute of Air Research and AirLabs to produce convincing representations of polluted air in cities around the world. This research has expanded to included scent specialists from the UK and Holland. The installation was first shown in Trondheim as part of the STARMUS festival which combined presentations from leading artists, astronauts and scientists including Steven Hawkins and Charlie Duke. Subsequently, the installation was shown in Somerset House in London.
Pollution Pods has been central to the Climart research project where a team of psychologists from the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU) have been trying to establish whether art can change people’s perception of climate change.
The Climart team are as follows:
Christian A. Klöckner, environmental psychologist, NTNU (project leader)
David Buckland, Director, Cape Farewell
Sam Jury, artist, (co-coordinator)
Laura Sommer, environmental psychologist, NTNU
Paul Stern, environmental psychologist, National Research Council
Janet Swim, environmental psychologist, Penn State University
Martina Zienert & Joachim Borner, environmental communicators, Kolleg fuer Management und Gestaltung, nachhaltiger Entwicklung
Peter Huybers, climate scientist, Harvard University
Edgar Hertwich, environmental scientist, Yale University
Michael Pinsky is a British artist whose work has been shown in galleries and public spaces internationally. Taking the combined roles of artist, urban planner, activist, researcher, and citizen he often starts residencies and commissions without a specified agenda, working with local people and resources, allowing the physical, social and political environment to define his working methodology. Past work has been shown at TATE Britain; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chengdu; Saatchi Gallery; Victoria and Albert Museum; Institute for Contemporary Art, London; La Villette, Paris; BALTIC, Gateshead; Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow and more.
The creation of Pollution Pods has been generously supported by the following organisations: Airlabs, Build With Hubs, Cape Farewell, International Flavors & Fragrances Ltd, King’s College London, Norwegian Research Council, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), The Norwegian Institute of Air Research (NILU), University of East London.
Cape Farewell manage the touring of Pollution Pods and handle all enquiries, bookings and tour logistics. Please contact Stephanie Clements, Lead Project Manager, for a full technical specification and further information.