Client: Storefront for Art and Architecture and Marfa Dialogues/NY

Type: Exhibition

Size / Date: 1,000 SF / 2013

Collaborator: Amanda Parkes (Robotics Engineering)

Awards: Grant Award, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (2013)
Grant Award, New York State Council on the Arts (2012)

Weather (Un)Control, presented with the Storefront for Art and Architecture, was an installation focused on the uncontrollability of indoor air. The installation, part of Marfa Dialogues/NY, included an indoor weather system generated by two forms of air contamination: dust and static electricity. Coming one year after Hurricane Sandy, the project was a timely exploration of the invisible contaminants—especially dust—that fill indoor air long after the weather clears. This invisibly contaminated air, which goes unmeasured by the insurance companies charged with inspecting affected sites, recasts the term “air rights” as an interior issue.

Weather (Un)Control with Storefront for Art and Architecture for Marfa Dialogues/NY from MODU on Vimeo.

Ten percent of New York City buildings sustained storm damage during Hurricane Sandy. While billions of dollars were spent on the recovery effort, the storm’s invisible effects still linger in the air. Health risks in the indoor air of buildings—in the form of mold and dust—are beyond the reach of health officials, who rely mostly on outdoor air monitors. Weather (Un)Control focused attention on indoor air contaminants.

External Links:
Storefront for Art and Architecture: About Storefront
Can Marfa Bring Its Magic to Manhattan? (NY Times)
Questions Emerge About the Mold That Hurricane Sandy Left Behind (NY Times)

MODU is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Dust in Sandy-affected buildings—including asbestos, silica, and gypsum—was produced not only by storm damage but, even more substantially, by the rebuilding that has followed. It remains in the air a year later. The Weather (Un)Control exhibit included a “dust wall” that used two robotic plotters to create ephemeral drawings made of static electricity and artificial dust.

Since there are no government agencies monitoring indoor air quality, oversight has been left to the insurance companies that determine access to indoor “air rights.” Rather than conduct air quality tests, the insurance industry relies on visual inspections to measure air contamination as well as determine insurance risk. Weather (Un)Control highlighted the inefficiency of these visual inspections with “dust wall” drawings that remained invisible unless lit with ultraviolet light. The drawings were based on the level of contaminant-- asbestos, silica, or gypsum-- in the captured air samples, exhibited in glass bell jars.

The bell jars contained air from the Environmental Protection Agency’s post-Sandy monitor locations; either “clean” outdoor air or “dirty” indoor air from buildings. Instead of drawing with ink, the robotic plotter on one side of the wall discharged invisible positive ions to attract the falling dust; the other plotter used negative ions to clean the wall. The negative ions in the “clean room” passed through the wall, causing more dust to gather in the “dirty room.” Weather (Un)Control revealed the cyclical and invisible nature of air contamination after extreme weather events, unseen and overlooked by insurance companies that stake claim to our indoor “air rights.”

Bustler, Online (December 2013)
Complex: Art and Design, Online (December 2013)
Archinect, Online (December 2013)

Project Team: Phu Hoang, Rachely Rotem, Kamilla Csegzi, Sara Dionis Sevilla, Chad Murphy, Evan Collins

Credits: Amanda Parkes/Skinteractive Studio (Robotics Engineering), Zack Freedman (Fabrication), Brett Beyer (Photography)

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