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The repulsive concoction of smell, air quality and temperature of New Delhi was recreated and poured inside a geodesic dome by British artist Michael Pinsky.

The artwork connects five geodesic domes, which Pinsky calls Pollution Pods, each filled with the unique smell of a city of the world. This olfactory excursion includes the cities of Delhi, Trondheim, London, Sao Paolo, and Beijing.

The pods contrast pollution in these five cities across four continents, and yet they are interconnected to make an important remark about the interdependence of our world.

A grave and urgent subject like pollution needs an art like Pinsky’s that makes you clamp your mouth shut and feel the disgust and danger of toxins.

“Our need for cheaper goods is reflected in the ill-health of many people in the world and in the ill-health of our planet as a whole. In this installation we can feel, taste, and smell the environments that are the norm for a huge swathe of the world’s population. Perhaps the visceral memory of these toxic places will make us think again before we buy something else we don’t really need,” says Pinsky.

The pollution pod installation is a result of a four-year long scientific project called Climart.

Back in their lab, chemists recreate the recipe of these specific pollutant smells with non-toxic fragrances that emulate the relative presence of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide to give a close approximation of the city’s air. In reality, however, it is not about the smell of the city as Pinsky insists, “but rather it is a way to indicate the sources of the pollution: sulphur from factories, diesel fumes from cars, burnt coal from power plants and peoples’ homes, etc.”

Everyone who entered Pollution Pods has filled a questionnaire, the results of which are being analysed currently.

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Lab 28 Jul 2017

Olfactory excursion to five cities of the world with British artist Michael Pinsky

“I try to breathe as little as I can to prevent smog city from choking me. I wish I could detach my lungs. Every day, the city seems to be getting heavier, and her varicose veins fight to break out of her skin. Soon we must mutate—thick skin and resilient lungs – to survive this new reality.” – Amruta Patil, Kari

High pollution and ubiquitous filth are the truths of most Indian cities, particularly and unfortunately of our capital city. New Delhi has multiple sources of pollution: burning crops and rubbish, large particulate matter from the diesel, and dust from the streets. This repulsive concoction of smell, air quality and temperature of New Delhi was recreated and poured inside a geodesic dome by British artist Michael Pinsky as part of an art installation in Trondheim, Norway.

The repulsive concoction of smell, air quality and temperature of New Delhi was recreated and poured inside a geodesic dome by British artist Michael Pinsky.

The artwork connects five geodesic domes, which Pinsky calls Pollution Pods, each filled with the unique smell of a city of the world. This olfactory excursion includes the cities of Delhi, Trondheim, London, Sao Paolo, and Beijing.

The artwork connects five geodesic domes, which Pinsky calls Pollution Pods, each filled with the unique smell of a city of the world. This olfactory excursion includes the cities of Delhi, Trondheim, London, Sao Paolo, and Beijing.

The pods contrast pollution in these five cities across four continents, and yet they are interconnected to make an important remark about the interdependence of our world. “Much of this pollution is driven by the insatiable appetite of capitalist consumerism. Whilst we here in the developed world live in an environment with relatively clean air, people in countries such as India and China are being poisoned by the air borne toxins created from industries fulfilling orders from the West,” Pinsky mentioned this in his proposal.

The pods contrast pollution in these five cities across four continents, and yet they are interconnected to make an important remark about the interdependence of our world.

A grave and urgent subject like pollution needs an art like Pinsky’s that makes you clamp your mouth shut and feel the disgust and danger of toxins.

"It’s rare to come across smell as a medium of art, even though olfaction is a powerful sense with a lasting memory. In fact, it is the perfect medium for an issue like pollution because, as the creators of this project observe, images of smog and smoke in cities like Delhi and Mumbai can have a somewhat poetic, romantic, and mystical look to it."

It’s rare to come across smell as a medium of art, even though olfaction is a powerful sense with a lasting memory. In fact, it is the perfect medium for an issue like pollution because, as the creators of this project observe, images of smog and smoke in cities like Delhi and Mumbai can have a somewhat poetic, romantic, and mystical look to it. A grave and urgent subject like pollution needs an art like Pinsky’s that makes you clamp your mouth shut and feel the disgust and danger of toxins.

“Our need for cheaper goods is reflected in the ill-health of many people in the world and in the ill-health of our planet as a whole. In this installation, we can feel, taste, and smell the environments that are the norm for a huge swathe of the world’s population. Perhaps the visceral memory of these toxic places will make us think again before we buy something else we don’t really need,” says Pinsky.

“Our need for cheaper goods is reflected in the ill-health of many people in the world and in the ill-health of our planet as a whole. In this installation we can feel, taste, and smell the environments that are the norm for a huge swathe of the world’s population. Perhaps the visceral memory of these toxic places will make us think again before we buy something else we don’t really need,” says Pinsky.

At times, the process of creating art is an art in its own right. You imagine experts standing in the middle of a city, taking in the smells of various pollutants and noting their observations. Back in their lab, chemists recreate the recipe of these specific pollutant smells with non-toxic fragrances that emulate the relative presence of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide to give a close approximation of the city’s air. In reality, however, it is not about the smell of the city as Pinsky insists, “but rather it is a way to indicate the sources of the pollution: sulphur from factories, diesel fumes from cars, burnt coal from power plants and peoples’ homes, etc.”

The pollution pod installation is a result of a four-year long scientific project called Climart.

The pollution pod installation is a result of a four-year long scientific project called Climart—appropriately called so because it explores how visual art might affect opinion on climate change—by Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). “We want to know how viewers respond to a diverse range of climate change related art in differing contexts. What are the emotional reactions they experience; what thoughts are triggered; what do they perceive; and crucially, what actions do climate related artworks prompt,” mentions the project website.

Back in their lab, chemists recreate the recipe of these specific pollutant smells with non-toxic fragrances that emulate the relative presence of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide to give a close approximation of the city’s air. In reality, however, it is not about the smell of the city as Pinsky insists, “but rather it is a way to indicate the sources of the pollution: sulphur from factories, diesel fumes from cars, burnt coal from power plants and peoples’ homes, etc.”

Everyone who entered Pollution Pods has filled up a questionnaire, the results of which are being analysed currently. The team will publish its findings in various relevant platforms like scientific papers on psychology and communication and arts organisations.

Everyone who entered Pollution Pods has filled a questionnaire, the results of which are being analysed currently.