Workshop [re]capture: Bio-Materialization of Air Pollution

March 24, 2023

A one-day workshop hosted by the City of Montreal, the Milieux Biolab, and the Concordia Research Chair in Critical Practices in Materials and Materiality

A student using a video capture microscope to visualize air particles and dust on a filter
In urban settings, the toxicity of the air, a milieu that is felt although invisible, is a growing issue. Particulate matter and gases generated by transport and construction activities have significant impacts, in particular on pulmonary and heart diseases, rising temperatures, plant photosynthesis, and vegetation growth. While air participates in global interchanges of oxygen and carbon dioxide at the planetary scale, more intimate metabolic processes such as breathing also underline the porous and precarious boundaries between the living and its surrounding milieu, raising social and political questions pertaining to the accessibility to a healthy environment. 
While ‘to recapture’ means ‘’to reclaim’’ and ‘’to re-experience’’ something or a situation, what kind of artistic interventions can make us more attuned to the microscopic invisibility of atmospheric pollution and the macroscopic dimension of their socio-environmental issues? In this workshop, Ville de Montréal’s Service de l’environnement will introduce participants to issues of air pollution, its impacts on the urban environment, and how air is monitored and measured. Participants will then experiment with  bio technologies and bio-filtering materials for materializing air’s particulate matter, build a DIY monitoring kit, and visualize indoor and outdoor air pollution using techniques of microscopy.

Critical Practices in
Materials and Materiality