The first performance of The Human Sensor in Manchester

Posted on 24.07.2016

Last night was the premiere performance of The Human Sensor, a commission by Invisible Dust and Manchester, European City of Science.

Performers wearing the hi-tech wearable costumes moved through the streets of Manchester from No. 70 Oxford Street to Sadlers Yard gathering a crowd for the final performance with stunning live visuals, choreography and soundtrack.

After the day’s events at location No. 70 as part of the wider City in the City programme, guests filtered in for a drinks reception in the downstairs café, host to many a lively debate gone by in this iconic venue’s history. This tradition had been kept alive earlier in the day by a drop-in talk, ‘Manchester, Public Health and Air Pollution’, which saw the panel engage a close-knit group in stimulating discussion about pollution in Manchester, with many seeking immediate active solutions to tackle this pressing issue.

After a talk from the artist Kasia Molga, Invisible Dust Director Alice Sharp, King’s College London’s Ian Mudwat and Manchester City of Science Director Annie Keane, people gathered outside the entrance of the building to witness the concept come to life as the dancers filed out and gracefully took their formation.

An immediate hush fell over the audience as the route followed up past St. Peter’s square and into the chattering ambience of Manchester’s nightlife. Every pause necessitated by crossing the road meant a mesmerising dance, which transfixed passers-by and seemed to slow the life-flow of the city right down to a respiratory tempo.

The costumes themselves were the conduit of this calming dynamic, since the intensity of the glowing LED strips within them fluctuated in response to the mechanical breathing of the performers. The colours were representative of the surrounding air quality and the pollutants that we are exposed to on a daily basis on what is often termed as the busiest bus corridor in Europe.

This stark display made its biggest connection when the procession made its way into the terminus of the route, in Sadler’s Yard, where the performance intensified against a backdrop of facts and poignant messages about air pollution. The ‘invisible’ became truly visible in a most tangible yet creatively abstract way, as Kasia’s artistic conception was realised in front of the awe-struck public, bringing air pollution and the immediacy of its dangers to the forefront of discussion.

Over the next 6 days Human Sensor will be performed in Manchester with a series of supporting talks and workshops at No. Oxford Street (old Cornerhouse building).  For more information on routes and to keep up to date with images and videos visit

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