Breath ~ Inhalation, Utterance, Spirit, Wind, Water
An art, ecology and technology project comprised of an interactive sound + screens + landscape installation that is networked, in real‑time, with a remotely located water irrigation/filtration system.
The Breath project was originally conceived as a creative nexus for addressing issues of shared resources among conflicting cultures by focusing on the unifying action of an ethical relationship to the environment. Environmental stewardship is a key mandate of the UN and other global leadership organizations as climate change, water scarcity and other ecological challenges grow in complexity and urgency.
Environmental science, in combination with art and technology is a means to make things happen. Recognizing the urgency to create change, artists are integrating art processes into daily life. New cultural practices indicate a new social order – ways of life that emphasize participation, challenge power structures, and span disciplines ranging from ecology to community engagement, visual arts to scientific innovation. This project will bring recognition and response to the urgent need for respectful cooperation between conflicting values and beliefs at a time of critical social and environmental crisis.
Our consideration focuses on the Jordan River and Valley – the Fertile Crescent of ancient times, where civilization began, giving birth to technological innovations such as writing, glass, the wheel and the use of irrigation. Situated in the Great Rift Valley, the region is of great significance for its cultural, religious and geographic importance. The Jordan River is rich in symbolic value to three of the world’s major religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which makes the region one of the greatest of the world’s tourist attractions. The Jordan River and Basin is the ecological and zoological junction of three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe, and is the center of a wetland ecosystem that is the biological heart of the region.
Sadly, the river is under enormous threat by excessive water diversion and severe pollution. Ninety‑six percent of its fresh water is redirected and the area has been the dumping ground for untreated sewage that threatens to irreversibly damage the river.
The Breath project consists of an installation/living landscape with sound and responsive screens for visual display in one location. A remotely located, site‑specific, water filtration and irrigation system will co‑occur at a second locale. Air metrics within the primary installation space will measure the changes between the O2 and CO2 ratios of human breath and plant respiration. This data will drive the technology associated with the remotely located water system, providing the energy source to drive the circuit. The media in the installation is affected by real‑time data drawn from both sites that cause it to alter and transform while sound shared from one site to another creates a synesthesia of spatial experience. This networked system is adaptable for use in multiple situations. The pairing of two locations by connecting the breath of a person in one location with irrigation and plant growth in a distant other underlines the true interdependence of all living beings.
- Hana Iverson, Drexel University, US, is a media artist and informally, a systems integrator, with a focus on public art and networked communities. Her work emphasizes an embodied experience of place and activates social engagement via installation, mobile distribution and multimodal interaction. Recent projects include SonicCity, a city‑scale sonic landscape designed for the city of Philadelphia.
- Jackie Brookner, The New School, US, has been developing her ecological art practice for over 20 years. Her work brings plant‑based water remediation for parks, rivers and wetlands together with habitat restoration, landscape sculpture and active community collaboration. These projects demonstrate how the undervalued resources of stormwater and other polluted water can be reclaimed to create evocative public places where people can connect with the natural systems that support our lives.
- Pramod Abichandani, US, serves as the Director of the Second Year Engineering Curriculum at Drexel University. He is a Senior Researcher and an Assistant Teaching Professor at the College of Engineering at Drexel University. He received his Bachelors of Engineering (B.E.) degree in 2005 from Nirma Institute of Technology, Gujarat University, India and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Drexel University in 2007 and 2011 respectively.
Full text (PDF) p. 393-396