Dysbiosis is the condition of having imbalances in the microbial communities either in or on the body; internal, external, in the environment.
COVID-19, for instance, could be seen as a global dysbiosis for humankind.
Dysbiosis/The Air We Breath is about our collective environment. Our microbiome, collectively speaking and individually. How our presence in a space, within our shared environments is felt and what we leave behind. How environments affect us, how, on a microbial level everything connects, everything interacts. Some for good, some not-so-good, some deadly.
With COVID-19 and other potential hazards in our air streams, the concept here is towards visualizing our multi species entanglements, our interactions and our awareness or unawareness of how we impact the nonhuman world.
The installation can be purely a VR/AR environment, web-based and/or with physical elements that employ haptic sensors within a space along with the mixed reality. The physical elements are soft circuit/soft sculptures.
Everything in the environment is visualized in its microscopic forms. From the bacteria and fungi that populate our tissue, hair, exhales, the floors, other organisms in this environment; birds, cats, how our microbes intermingle when we come close to one another, when we touch. In order to make the subjects in the space more ‘clear’ human and other life forms are outlined, however, the biomes spill over and out -they are not confined (as in reality) the outlines here are used as a marker of sorts.
Air readings are taken from within the space as well as the surrounding area this installation might take place in. This data is shown in percentages as well as in the virtual space. In some circumstances some of this data will be sonified towards creating a soundscape within the installation. Kinect sensors map visitors in the space to project their microbiome, TouchDesigner will be used for some of these visuals
In 2012/13/14 I started building large and small scale phytoplankton, fungi and bacteria out of glass and sometimes metal: copper/sterling.
In 2013/14 I received grants from the Glass Art Association of Canada and the Ontario Arts Council towards creating the working space to do so, supplies, and time to create sketches in flame-worked and cast glass.
The concept being to create macro versions of pollens, fungi, bacteria, dust/dirt, phytoplankton and other particulate found in our airstreams. Using a Vitrigraph kiln arraignment I started building up murrini- glass cane that would create the textural elements. It was amazing to create custom colour palletes, and work in my super small studio similarly to working in a Hot shop (aka glass blowing studio). For the most part this initial stage was successful, however, the kiln and space required to create large renderings was out of my means, and the only available studio is in Brooklyn, NY and I am in Toronto so, I created a foundation that could potentially be utilized at a later date.
Since the 90’s I have been fascinated with the concept of Virtual worlds and creating them! The work of Jaron Lanier only added to this. Plus, he coined the term or maybe William Gibson did or? Who knows! It sounded amazing. Add to that my dreams as a small child in the 70’s of cars that had windscreens like televisions (for lack of a better word then) and motorcycles that turned into robotic suits around the rider (think Transformers but in 71/72 and I don’t think that even existed yet!) I have always been a child of SciFi.
In 2015/16 I participated in workshops that taught Unity gaming and AR. I believe now that a mixed reality, maybe working with Magic Leap, Holo Lens or similar (like a AR contact lens!) is the way to create the visualizations I am considering.
I have included information below from the first iteration of the Air We Breath below.
Imagine if you could actually see, touch, feel and perhaps hear everything around you on a microscopic level. What would that be like? Would you want to consciously interact with these organisms, and molecular structures? Would your conscious interaction(s) change the environment in any way, positive or negative?
The air we breathe invites participation through several non-linear sensory components.
Auditory: highly sensitive microphones record, filter and play back (live) breathing within the installation.
Touching, and feeling the Phytoplankton(2)(3)., Zooplankton, Radiolarians and Melethallia creates generative sounds, displays immediate air quality (VOCs, particulates, biogenic, etc.).
As the night progresses, and the air quality diminishes/increases, the structures within the space appear to grow or decrease in number. Mirrored floor and walls create the illusion of infinite space. Infinite air.
Significance To draw a direct link between the Oceans health, air quality, and Humanity. To open a positive dialog concerning the climate crisis, and how events like Fukushima, war, fossil fuel use/production all contribute to The air we breathe, and perhaps even our shared microbiome.
Between the Earth, and the Sky IS the possibility of everything- our air/our oxygen without it there is no possibility.
1. World Health Organization website. 17/10/2013 Press release http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/pr221_E.pdf
2. The Ocean is Broken, by Greg Ray Herald Life & Style article on Ivan Macfadyen’s 3000 nautical mile findings.
3. National Geographic, Oceans.