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A crowd of people gathers and poses for a photo in front of a series of domed structures in a field.

AUB brings UN Summit Pollution Pods to Dorset


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The Pods, which have been at the centre of continued calls for action over climate change at New York’s UN Climate Action Summit, will now be visiting Brownsea Island on Dorset’s iconic Jurassic Coast after funding from AUB, hosting from National Trust and a collaboration between Cape Farewell and Activate Dorset.

While in New York, the series of interlinked geodesic domes were visited by climate activist Greta Thunberg who heard first hand from Michael Pinsky how the atmosphere in each recreates the air quality, smell and temperature of five major cities – Tautra, London, Beijing, São Paulo and New Delhi.

This time, the Pods will be at Brownsea Island from Friday 25 to Tuesday 29 October in a collaboration between Activate, producers of Inside Out Dorset, the county’s biennial outdoor arts festival, and Cape Farewell, the artist-led organisation that uses culture to change how people think about climate change, with support from the National Trust.

Students from five undergraduate programmes at AUB, which has part-funded the installation on Brownsea Island, will be visiting to undertake a number of projects inspired by Pollution Pods, including graphic design projects around climate data, as well as inspired field work in areas of creative writing and architecture.

Professor Mary Oliver, AUB’s Dean of Media and Performance, said: “AUB is proud to be partners in bringing this significant artwork  to Brownsea Island in order to draw attention to the issue of global pollution.” says “We will be using the pods to develop a range of work that is informed by the installation and its placement in an area rich in natural beauty.

“Our students will graduate into a world where continued polluting energy production  has left our planet on the brink of serious irreversible damage. Art is one of the most resonant forms of communication and currently artists are playing a significant role in shaping the debate around climate change and what we can do to abate its harmful effects.”

Each dome contains a carefully mixed recipe that safely emulates the excessive quantities of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide that pollute these cities.

As visitors pass through the five cells, moving from dry and cold locations to hot and humid, for a few minutes at a time they experience, at no risk to their health, the sensation of breathing toxic air that is a daily reality for millions of people.

Creator Michael 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.”

A walk through the Pollution Pods reminds us our world is interconnected and interdependent and the price of the western world’s need for ever cheaper goods is the ill-health of our planet as a whole. In this installation, visitors can feel, taste and smell the environments that are the norm for a huge swathe of the world’s population.

Michael Pinsky’s work has been experienced by more than 20,000 people since it was launched last year at the Starmus Festival in Norway.

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