Even air pollution can create something positive, such as art

Cornwall’s famous Eden Project – a collection of giant bubble-like structures filled with the world’s most beautiful plants – has drawn millions of visitors from around the world. The similar idea was used to attract attention to the major environmental problem that our world is facing today.

The Eden Project – a visitor attraction in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. Photo: Flickr.com/ VanessaC (EY)

For most people, air pollution is barely noticeable, as often we can’t see, smell or taste it. Only on bad days which become unfortunately more and more frequently for many people air pollution is actually visible, and it is so bad that you even can smell and taste it on most days.

The Pollution Pods is a new installation from British artist Michael Pinsky, who uses a range of media to visualize climate change and other current and important social topics. The Pollution Pods emerged from a research project called Climart, which launched in 2014 and aims to explore how art might affect public opinion on climate change.

The installation consists of five geodesic domes, connected to form a ring. In each pod, the air quality from five cities on four continents is recreated: Trondheim, London, New Delhi, Sao Paulo and Beijing. A comparison between air quality in these cities is stunning, as the annual mean concentrations of PM10 in Trondheim is 18 µg/m3, PM2.5 – 10 µg/m3, and the PM10 annual mean in New Delhi is 229 µg/m3, PM2.5 – 122 µg/m3. But not to worry – the air wafting through each of the five domes won’t actually be loaded with harmful, foul-smelling pollutants. “We don’t want the air in the domes to expose the public to danger, so we’ll remove the most dangerous substances and replace them with harmless ingredients and fragrances that resemble the real city air,” says Christian A. Klöckner, the head of a Climart project. A carefully mixed recipe will emulate the relative presence of particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide that pollutes these cities. This allows visitors to experience everything, starting from the famously clean air of Norway, to much more polluted atmosphere of India in a matter of minutes.

The experience of walking through the pollution pods shows us that everything in this world is interconnected and interdependent. “Whilst those 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 airborne toxins created from industries fulfilling orders for the rest of the world. The experience of moving from one dome to another, in a loop, without being able to exit, will hopefully demonstrate how interconnected the world is. I’m hoping that by being able to feel, taste and smell the environments that are the norm for a huge swathe of the world’s population, the visceral memory of these toxic places will make visitors to the installation think again before we buy something else they don’t really need,” says Michael Pinsky.

Pollution Pods was shown as a part of the STARMUS festival in Trondheim, Norway, an international gathering focused on celebrating science and the arts with the goal of bringing an understanding and appreciation of science to the public at large. Scientist and astronomers such as Stephen Hawking and Buzz Aldrin took part in the festival. It is still possible to visit the installation until July 7.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *