Scoring the invisible

Biomaterial and computational processes for [re]capturing atmospheric pollution




atmospheric pollution, filtration, data physicalisation, interactive scores, virtual testing model, research-creation


This article discusses the computational and material interplays embedded in the making of [re]capture, a research–creation project combining a bio-inspired installation that materialises particulate matter, together with outdoor sensing instruments that collect atmospheric data in at-risk neighbourhoods (Montreal, Canada). With impacts on health and the environment, habitual and slow forms of exposure to atmospheric pollution (Hsu 2016) outline the relationality of air and the porosity of bodies, both human and more-than-human (Nieuwenhuis 2016; Albano 2022). What kind of technical objects, and material-esthetics can “negotiate a rapprochement” (Gissen 2009, 22) with the invisible materiality of air? At the intersection of critical and bio-design, mechanical engineering, and computer science, [re]capture delves into this question through the lens of ‘filtration,’ simultaneously envisioned as a physical process for attending to atmospheric pollution, and as a generative concept for interpolating technology, materiality, and the city. While the artwork iterates a virtual testing model (Blender and ossia score) with physical prototyping, the article examines how to compose with air through digital simulation and scoring to create new alliances between porous meshes, bioindicators, data, particulate matter, light, wind, and electronics. It also asks How to design installations that embody and materialise the affective properties of air? Attending the speculative trajectory of this process, the article draws on feedback from computer-aided simulation techniques and collaborative experiments in residency spaces to investigate the ‘scoring’ of [im]materiality and explore the spatio-temporality of air.

Author Biographies

Jean-Michaël Celerier, Concordia University

Jean-Michaël is a post-doctoral researcher at Concordia University, focused on research & development of media software for the arts. He studied software engineering, computer science & multimedia technologies at Bordeaux, and obtained his doctorate on the topic of authoring temporal media in 2018. He develops and maintains a range of free & open-source software used for creative coding, digital and intermedia art, which he leverages in various installations and works; in particular, most of his work is centered on the ossia platform for which he is the main developer. He enjoys organizing events centered on programming and media art - most recently the Linux Audio Conference, and a C++ meetup in Bordeaux. He teaches all sorts of creative coding languages (PureData, Processing, OpenFrameworks, etc) to both computer science and graphics design students.

Alice Jarry, Concordia University

Alice Jarry (PhD) is Associate Professor in the department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University. She is Research Chair in Critical Practices in Materials and Materiality, Associate Director of the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology, as well as Director of Milieux' Speculative Life Biolab. As an artist-researcher, she specializes in site-specific works, art and science practices, and socio-environmental design. Her research brings concerns about sustainability, aesthetics, and politics to bear critically upon material production and urban infrastructure. It currently focuses on residual matter, and active and biomaterials for the built environment. Through her installation works, she examine how materiality - engaged in processes of transformation with site, technology, and communities - can provoke the emergence of adaptive forms and resilient socio-environmental relations. She is a member of Hexagram - International Network Dedicated to Research-Creation in Media Arts, Design, Technology and Digital Culture; and The Living Architecture Systems Group (U. Waterloo). Her works have been presented internationally at Centre George Pompidou (Paris), Ars Electronica (Linz), Planétarium de Montréal, Vox Centre de l’image Contemporaine (Montreal), Biennale Nemo (Paris), Leonardo Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology (Milan), Physicalité (International Digital Arts Biennial (Montreal), Mutek (Montreal), Le mois Multi (Quebec), Device_Art Triennale (Zagreb), Invisible Dog Art Center (New York), and Mons 2015, European Capital of Culture (Mons), among other locations.