The World Health Organization (WHO) has invited artist Michael Pinsky to create an installation of ‘Pollution Pods’ to raise awareness of air pollution.
Pinsky’s Pollution Pods, a series of immersive geodesic domes designed to recreate accurately the scent, texture and temperature of ambient pollution in five world locations, will be installed outside the United Nations’ (UN) headquarters in New York in time for the UN Climate Action Summit, scheduled for 23 September. Summit attendees will be able to enter the pods and experience a facsimile of the air quality in Beijing, London, New Delhi, São Paulo and the Norwegian peninsula region of Tautra; in order to exit the installation, users must pass through all the pods, highlighting the interconnectedness of environmental and climate issues.
Pinsky said: “In the Pollution Pods, I have tried to distil the whole bodily sense of being in each place. For instance, being in São Paulo seems like a sanctuary compared to New Delhi, until your eyes start to water from the sensation of ethanol, whilst Tautra is unlike any air you’ll have ever breathed before, it is so pure.”
Environmental psychologist and Climart co-ordinator Professor Dr Christian A. Kloeckner of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) who commissioned the Pollution Pods for Norway’s Starmus festival in 2018, said: “We wanted to assess the potential for art to impact behaviour around climate change. There are some horrific statistics that Michael’s research has brought to light, such as the fact that children are much more vulnerable to the effects of pollution as they tend to breathe more through their mouths and don’t regulate their breathing to try to filter out pollution. We believe that by immersing oneself in this kind of art environment, which engenders a physical and an emotional response, one can hope to shift behavioural patterns.”