Considered among the protagonists of the so-called “extreme” ecological art, in his first Italian Personal Show, Andrea Polli (Chicago, 1968; she lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico) presents a series of works that explore the integrated dialectic of different media, offering different interpretations of data taken from natural contexts.
The works shown, made in collaboration with Chuck Varga, arise from measurements of the quality of environmental air. These were taken in teamwork with scientists and meteorologists and, through a process known as “sonification”, sensitive systems were developed to understand different natural phenomena.
In Breathless, atmospheric pollution, melting glaciers, global warming, or a simple storm, are living testimony to the climate change we are going through. The climate variations analysed and interpreted by Polli, seen also as being signs of the cultural changes that have accompanied the history of man’s evolution, amount to an investigation of the impact of the climate on the future of life, at both the local and the global level.
In Breather and Cloud Car, site-specific environmental installations in the PAV courtyard, based on an old Fiat 500 and a Fiat 126 – runabouts chosen as symbols of the great Italian economic boom – the artist extends the relationship between man and nature to include the wider social context. In Breather, the car is covered with a transparent dome that, thanks to a system that inflates it or expels the air, acts like a lung stretched to suffocation. In Cloud Car the car is fitted with a misting device – this, too, activated by movement sensors as visitors pass by – that makes the air into something tangible and visible. As the artist comments, “Any discussion on the environment inevitably touches upon the subject ‘automobile’. This vehicle and tool is considered essential for daily life in industrialised countries, but its benefits have a very high cost for the environment: air pollution, road congestion, noise pollution”.
At the social level, human beings and the city may thus be considered a single entity in their need to find an environmental balance that merges organic and inorganic; technology may perhaps become am example, may help us to understand that balance.
This weather dimension appears clearly since from the entrance of PAV, when the public have to cross Particle Falls, a flowing waterfall of lights that shows real-time air quality data, captured by a nephelometer, processed by a software and finally projected onto a wall. Them, the wrapping sounds from the series Atmospherics/Weather works, here presented as a four-channel sound installation (but which is part of a much wider project to turn meteorological data, concerning the wind and cyclones, into sound). Within this sound environment, the videos of the installations put in place in New York, New Delhi and San Jose give a proper context to the work by Andrea Polli and at the same time expand her work to a global range, as they are global all the results of behaviours, development directions and life-styles that human beings are imposing on the planet.
Lastly, in the PAV project room, the video-documentary Ground Truth, shot during a scientific enterprise in South Pole, and N., video representation of the atmospheric data at North Pole, are shown as images from places that are remote, extreme and rarefied places but yet strictly connected to our daily life’s places, as they are all equidistant from the central issue of global eco-balance.
As part of the PAV Educational and Training Activities, curated by Orietta Brombin, the issues at the core of Breathless will be occasion for a cognitive and expressive investigation: the lab Ibridazioni / Ascoltare segni is the starting point to seek connections between sound and colour in order to produce audible images and music for eyes, on the tracks of Andrea Polli’s Atmospheric work.