The Fumifugium Project – Air Pollution London

Category
Art

My latest project in 2019 is looking at Air Pollution, with a focus on London and particularly under the Westway A40 where my studio is located.

In researching for this project, I came across what is considered the first book on the problem of air pollution caused by smoke, called: Fumifugium, or, The inconveniencie of the aer and smoak of London dissipated Written by John Evelyn in 1661.

My studio is a former nursery school, Maxilla, which sits directly underneath the A40 Westway in London. It is one of the most air polluted areas in London and is
300 metres from Grenfell Tower, where, unsurprisingly, there is a lot of anxiety over the long-term effects of smoke inhalation from the disaster.

These two things; the Fumifugium and Grenfell have have conflated and mutated in my head. The Fumifugium has become a monster, a chimera machine-beast smoke troll that lies wedged between my studio roof and the underside of the motorway. It is a noisy organ, feeding on and pooing out asthma-inducing PM 2.5 sooty particulates. It’s waiting for future trouble and droning on and on. Or, maybe that’s just the traffic. Anyway, it is in urgent need of a cure.

‘The Fumifugium’ project, is rooted in art, science and technology and aims to create an installation that manifests particulate air pollution through sound and light sculpture-instruments.

Data readings are currently being taken from an air pollution monitor that I have set up outside my studio (see photo) under the Westway since November 2018. This data will be transformed into sound and fed into sculpture.  The results will form an installation at Flashes to Ashes: Fire in British Art, 1692-2019 at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, England,  from June to September 2019.