Pollution Pods by Michael Pinsky

A smart installation by Michael Pinsky, allowing people to feel heavy pollution for the first time.

One of the biggest problems that Planet Earth faces now is global warming, a century-scale rise in the average temperature. While this is a natural process for a planet with an atmosphere like Earth, human influence remains the dominant cause of the exponential rise in temperatures. The largest factor in this pollution is burning fossil fuels, releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gasses. These gases have heavily affected the air quality of many cities in the world including London, New Delhi, Beijing and São Paulo.

In an attempt to raise awareness about the massive change of air quality in cities around the world and the health problems it introduces, artist Michael Pinsky created an art installation at Somerset House to represent the air quality of these cities around the world. These geodesic domes draw inspiration from Buckminster Fullers’ geodesic domes. Inside, they represent the air quality of Tautra, London, New Delhi, Beijing and then São Paulo. Tautra is a Norwegian island with one of the cleanest air in the world. This is the first dome, allowing you to experience pure air with no pollution so you can comprehend the impact of pollution in other cities.

The somerset house pollution pods
Experiencing pure air with no pollution

As you move to the London dome, the air is filled with deadly invisible nitrogen. While this is hard to spot in everyday life, changing domes from the cleanest air in the world to a poison-filled one will definitely strike you as different. Exposure to the pollution of London has been estimated to cut at least 6 months of life from the average person. The next pod, New Delhi; is filled with a haze of airborne particles that clog and cover our airways. In New Delhi, simply living there cuts off 6 years of life expectancy. Children’s lungs are permanently stunted as they are exposed to such dangerous toxins released by the booming industry in countries like India and China.

Simulating the air quality of highly polluted cities

Most of this pollution is caused by the desire of consumerism that’s further reinforced by capitalism. Our western modern countries enjoy relatively clean air while children and people in Eastern countries like China and India are constantly being poisoned by the airborne toxins flying above their heads. By simply walking through these pods, we might be able to slightly comprehend the damage caused to these countries. Everyone depends on everyone and our impact on the world will last for hundreds of years. We need to think about our habits, our shopping sprees, the way we move around and how often we buy and discard things we don’t need.

Clouded vision in the polluted pods

The physical experience of such pollution is meant to leave a meaningful impact on you, making you understand that just because you can’t see it; doesn’t mean it’s not there. It is time for us all to think about the future of our planet, our children and human race.