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The Air We Breathe

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Poor air quality is an issue in many countries, although each region has its specific causes and challenges. Air quality is often measured in PM 2.5. PM 2.5 is a term used to describe small particles in the air and can be caused by dust, ash and sea-spray, as well as man-made causes such as soot emitted for power generation, domestic heating and in vehicle engines. As the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs UK explains, ‘The biggest impact of particulate air pollution on public health is understood to be from long-term exposure to PM2.5, which increases the age-specific mortality risk, particularly from cardiovascular causes.’ Children are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 570,000 children under the age of five die from unclean air each year.

Several interesting artistic interventions are raising visibility about the severity of air pollution, such as the Art for Air Project, a Chiangmai (and surrounding)-based artists’ initiative to raise awareness about and demonstrate community’s service to solve a decade-long smog and pollution problem from PM2.5, Thai artist Ruangsak Anuwatwimon’s “Right to Clean Air–The Art Exhibition” at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, which featured installations of dust from air pollution gathered from the country’s most polluted provinces, or British artist Michael Pinsky’s “pollution pods” that immerse you in the air from some of the world’s most polluted cities.

Now that clear skies can be seen in dense cities due to widespread shut downs, this is an opportunity to think carefully about the air we breathe.

This videopoem is part of ‘Disturbance Zones’, a suite of videopoems that explore ways in which our natural and social environments are becoming increasing unstable. This project, with new videopoems fortnightly, explores the metaphor of disturbance throughout our environment and social lives, challenging the way we think about these constant changes around us. You can follow the project on Vimeo.

Poem, sound and video by Claire Rosslyn Wilson


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