Wesley Goatley is a man on a mission. The London based artist and researcher has recently taken his experience working with sound and technology to the worrying issue of London’s air quality.
‘Your thoughts on air pollution tend to go one way, which is “oh this is awful and we’re on a one way track with it.” This is an attempt to make work which feels empowering, and invites people to explore it.’
‘This’ is Breathing Mephitic Air, a new immersive sound instillation commissioned by the production company Shrinking Space ahead of their major collaboration with Cape Farewell, King’s and Utopia 2016 later this month. Inspired, or perhaps disheartened, by the poor air quality in the capital, which breached the pollution limit for the year within the first five days of 2017, the organisations have teamed up to host Space to Breathe, a weekend of exhibits, talks, workshops and creative action.
Breathing Mephitic Air will use data visualisations alongside a 360-degree speaker arrangement to sonify six months’ worth of air quality data, creating a tangible representation of the particles in the London air, as Wesley explains:
‘Every single day between Brexit and the 2016 US election is represented, at a rate of one hour per second. The Environmental Research Group at King’s have provided the values for specific forms of air pollution and the average wind speed and wind direction. That wind direction data really informs how people experience the piece, because that direction and that speed moves the sounds dynamically through the space.’
The piece grew out of a previous foray into these issues called Watching Mephitic Air, which Wesley created for the London Design Festival in partnership with fellow artist Tobias Revell. It has now evolved from an audiovisual work to an installation that explores space and sound in much greater detail. The larger perspective has allowed the artist to begin to examine air pollution issues on a global scale, using specific sounds and visuals to illustrate the data and reveal new narratives of the international systems of air pollution.
Read the full interview here
Space to Breathe
Dates: 28 -29 January 27
Open: 12.00 – 18.00
Tickets: Free, drop-in
Address: River Rooms, New Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA
Supported by: Arts Council England, The Physiological Society, King’s College London's Environmental Research Group and Somerset House Trust.
Interview by Ottilie Thornhill, Masters Student, King’s College London.