Toward a poetics of air: sequencing and surfacing breath

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This paper develops the concept of a poetics of air: a notion borrowed from cultural anthropology that denotes an awareness of the simultaneous material, affective and aesthetic impressions of air and atmosphere. While there is a rich and growing body of work on atmospheric geopolitics and aeromobility, much less attention has been given to the affective and aesthetic dimensions of being in and witnessing air and atmosphere. This paper uses the sensory, affective and aesthetic experience of engaging with an artwork – Dryden Goodwin's large-scale urban installation Breathe – to reflect on the possibility and promise of an airy poetics for expanding disciplinary concerns with air and atmosphere. It is through producing a moving image that is sustained, ventilated and activated by air – achieved through the artist's production of a visual sequence and ‘active surface’ – that Breathe performs an airy poetics: it conveys the porosity of breathing bodies, the texture and materiality of air, and suggests what a collective sensing of atmosphere might look and feel like.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-444
Number of pages15
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number3
Early online date25 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015

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