Air is the fundamental element for life and breathing, but it is also a source of pleasure and joy. It has been a playground for artists experimenting with lightness and transparency from acrobatics to visual arts. With climate change, air and temperature have become key questions of survival. Pure air has become almost a luxury commodity as pollution and urbanization have led to a situation where urban air is increasingly manufactured, and clean air is not available for everyone. Yet air is not a stable element: it is constantly changing and flowing, and thus it also carries the possibility for change.
In the fourth symposium of the thematic series “The Five Rings”, Aboagora approached wind and air both literally and metaphorically. The talks and performances examined air as a basic element of life and ecology, but also addressed the complex ties between nature, technology and human experience. The symposium brought together the humanities, natural sciences, psychology, photography and visual and performance arts to address various winds around us and within us – ecological and societal, material and metaphorical – and their interconnections.
AGORA (keynote) talks
“Winds in Our Solar System”
Andrew Coates (Professor of Physics, University College London, UK)
Space beyond Earth’s atmosphere is not empty. The Sun emits the ‘solar wind’, a million tonne per second supersonic stream of charged particles which interacts with planets and comets. This produces spectacular visible effects like the aurora and comet plasma tails. Within planetary atmospheres, space missions have captured sounds of winds on Mars, Titan and comets. In this keynote talk, we listen to sounds from these alien worlds.
“The Wisdom of Janus: Energy Transitions as Liminal Spaces”
Joan Sullivan (photographer, writer and artivist, Canada)
Navigating the transition to a future fueled by non-fuels (wind, water, sun) will be easier if we have the wisdom to learn from the past. In this keynote, energy transition photographer and writer Joan Sullivan turns to Janus – the two-headed Roman god of transitions – to help us better understand the liminal nature of all energy transitions, past and present.
“The Real and Imaginary Breeze. Air in the Visual Arts”
Hanna Johansson (Professor of Contemporary Art Research and Dean of the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland)
This presentation approaches the ways and means of the visual arts to present and represent the element of air. Johansson asks how the almost invisible air can be brought into the scope of visuality and sensuality, what kinds of tasks wind and breeze have in the history of visual art, and how these relate to urgent reflections on the airy phenomena.