Kasia Molga’s Human Sensor on BBC RadioPosted on 10.02.2020
“The pollution that circulates the air and water of the globe is changing the world we live in. It’s infiltrating our daily lives – from the food we eat, to the air we breathe. Yet in the hands of some artists, smog, landfill and sewage have become beautiful, witty and challenging statements.”
In this show Emma Critchley meets the artists who are finding original and compelling ways to help us understand the crisis of pollution. From costumes which glow red in response to carbon, to mountainous piles of stinking cigarette butts, they take us beyond facts and figures and force us to face up to the contamination we are inflicting on the planet.
Kasia is an artist working with design, technology and science. For her project “Human Sensor,” she has made futuristic-looking capes from recycled laser-cut acrylic, which change colour as the wearer inhales and exhales, and react to air pollution. “When there is more black carbon in the air, it becomes more and more red,” explains Kasia.
The project was inspired by Kasia’s own bodily condition – asthma. One hot summer she was hospitalised by a dramatic asthma attack. She realised she could sense pollutants much faster than a healthy person – her breathing was a sensor for whatever was happening in the air. So, as wearable devices like fitness trackers took off, she asked: rather than using them to monitor our bodies, why don’t we explore the connection between us and the environment?
Kasia’s costumes are worn by dancers who promenade through busy urban streets. Like creatures of the deep, their glowing colours rhythmically pulsate with each breath, as they perform a choreographed dance. Despite wanting to highlight pollutants, Kasia also wanted to create something beautiful. There is enough “doomsday news,” says the artist. “We need things that give us hope.”
Kasia and the artists discuss the relationship between art and activism, taking us beyond the facts and figures to face head on and experience the contamination we are inflicting on the planet