SP: How does your web residency project engage with the threshold of science fact and science fiction and/or individual storytelling?
HH and AM: In our project, we treat environmental science not as a matter of fact or fiction, but as a specific social-political endeavor with a privileged position in generating knowledge about the planetary environment. This is not to say that we are suspicious or disregarding of science. We have spent considerable time talking with various atmospheric scientists, who were influential and helpful in informing our understanding about the air pollution phenomena and its technoscientific representation.
»There is no real global management of polluted air, but certainly there are globally manifested, tacit ways of thinking about and relating to the air.«
In addition to this, we explore how scientific and automated data and concepts travel, finding new unanticipated contexts and meanings, whether in the personal stories shared by individuals or in larger geopolitical projects.
SP: Thinking of the dynamics and the alarming scale of the global polluted air and its local impact, knowledge production and access to data becomes a key concept in your project. How does your discussion of the topic differ from solely academic papers, and is there an aim to mobilize a change in system thinking? To what extent do you create a shift or ad reconfiguration of our current relationship with polluted and/or clean air?
HH and AM: In our collaboration, we do not want to assume prescriptive roles for science as »the data production machine« nor art as »the awareness raising tool« nor essentialize one disciplinary approach over others. Instead, we explore the possibilities that emerge from treating our collaboration not only as interdisciplinary, but simultaneously interrogative of the historical boundaries of these disciplines. As an example, we use artistic research, such as the previously mentioned aerial accounts, not only as affective and aesthetic referents, but equally, as original resource for analysis and action.
Also, we recognize that »interdisciplinarity« is not something natural nor automatic, but an effort that requires experimentation between different practices, languages, and ways of knowing, including material forms of inquiry. Therefore, our intention is to develop a multiplicity of outcomes that allow sharing the problematics of air across different platforms, contexts, and audiences. Following Donna Haraway and other ecofeminist thinkers and practitioners, we see the art-scientific practice as a viable means not only to refine our reasoning, but also to create richer, more reflexive and livable worlds (and atmospheres), which are hopefully »less organized along the axes of domination«.
SP: In your opinion, what shift should the global management of polluted air undertake for a better future?
HH and AM: There is no real global management of polluted air, but certainly there are globally manifested, tacit ways of thinking about and relating to the air. We hope that our work contributes to a better understanding of these implicit conceptualizations and prevailing imaginaries.
SP: Please provide some links, book titles, sound files, and videos as further reading related to your artistic practices and research topics to share with our readers.
HH and AM: Finding ways of combining different practices and working together beyond disciplinary divides has been central in our collaboration. In this context, we are grateful for experiences such as hosting the AIR work group for Finnish Bioart Society’s the Heavens Field_Notes Laboratory (https://bioartsociety.fi/projects/field-notes-the-heavens/pages/air-group) that brought together activists, practitioners and researchers in art, architecture, ecology, anthropology, and racial and gender studies, and included practices of sharing, colearning, and living together at the Biological Station in northernmost Finland. Similarly, we also lead an urban ethnography studio at the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn (https://www.artun.ee/en/home/), where we go forward through working with students.