(In/Ex)hale, 2021. Grace Grothaus
My research-creation engages the mobilization of emerging environmental sensing and visualization technologies to address questions centered around the present and future global climate crisis. Can artworks act as an empirical interface for grasping our complex, interwoven, beyond-human ecologies of present-day Earth and inspire new ways of thinking about them? If so, might they lead to novel methods for response and environmental engagement with the ongoing event of climate change?
With project (In/Ex)hale my focus in on the breath, individual and collective. From the exhalation of trees into the atmosphere and our lungs, there is a cycle. Given recent event, perhaps we have never paid as much attention to our air as we are right now. Yet I would posit that we have forgotten our inseparability from it; how we are all effectively together within the ebb and flow of this invisible but unifying medium. This is in part because it is so difficult to focus on that which we cannot physically see, but also Western ontologies from the Enlightenment to Heidegger to the Anthropocene are merely an outgrowth of the lineage that holds humans as separate from nature, and ontologies we clearly need to let go of (Loenhart, 2021). (In/Ex)hale will be an immersive meditation on atmospheric exchange between organisms, ecosystems, and the collective biosphere.
This envirographic intervention seeks render atmospheric exchange audible and visible: CO2 and O2 data streams into whispered breath, song and projected video. Motion detection of viewers can be used to safely integrate viewer participation in an indoor gallery setting paired with dome speakers for directed, intimate sound experiences and the incorporation of remotely located outdoor atmospheric sensors. As visitors approach the sound dome, they create eddies of air movement, which will harmonize with the extant sounds of the installation, humming with the CO2 and O2 data streams from Foresta Inclusive’s sensor pods.
“Through our breath,” writes media scholar Heather Davis, “we become the universe, we begin to understand our connections to the universe.” (2017, 17). (In/Ex)hale proposes the creation of an artwork that acts as an empirical interface for grasping our complex, interwoven ecologies of present-day Earth and inspire new ways of thinking about them.