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Atmospheric Memory

Is the atmosphere a vast library holding every word ever spoken?

Atmospheric Memory is a major new co-commission with Manchester International Festival, Science and Industry Museum, FutureEverything and ELEKTRA/Arsenal, Montreal. At once a daring artwork and sensory performance, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s breathtaking immersive installation scours the atmosphere for voices, transforming them into something we can see and touch.

6-21 July 2019
Science and Industry Museum

Artist: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Images by Antimodular Research

We live in an age obsessed with ‘absolute recollection’, where technology captures every moment, every act, every impression. But is the atmosphere an archive itself? A vast library holding every word ever spoken? And what if we could ‘rewind’ the movement of air molecules to recover those long lost voices?

Inspired by computing pioneer Charles Babbage’s 180-year-old proposal that the air is a  ‘vast library’ holding every word ever spoken, Atmospheric Memory asks: was Babbage right? Can we rewind the movement of the air to recreate long lost voices? And if so, whose would we want to hear?

And what of the future? Years from now, whose voices and histories will be preserved? And if our actions and voices are forever impressed in the air, will we ever be able to ‘escape’, be forgotten or be set free?

Book your tickets

Date: 6-21 July 2019

Venue: The Atmospheric Memory Chamber
Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Road, M3 4FP

Running time: 60 minutes

“Atmospheric Memory is a project 5 years in the making and possibly the most ambitious I have ever undertaken. It is the result of research on disparate fields from robotics to fluid dynamics. Babbage’s obsession is now my own, if we could hear any voice from the past, whose would we want to hear? Loved ones long gone? Languages and songs now extinct? Oral histories never written?

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Harnessing both state-of-the-art technology and classic phantasmagorical effects, Lozano-Hemmer’s ‘Atmospheric Machines’ mine for air turbulence caused by speech, then transform it into something we can see, hear and even touch: trails of vapour, ripples on water, epic 360-degree projections. Works include a polyphonic tunnel featuring thousands of separate sound channels, a weathervane table controlled by computerised fans, an endoscopic film, a voice-controlled light beacon and the world’s first 3D printed speech bubble.

Lozano-Hemmer’s interactive installations sit at the intersection of architecture and performance art. Working with a team of programmers, designers, scientists and architects, Lozano-Hemmer’s artworks create critical and poetic platforms for public participation, by adopting, developing and misusing technologies of control such as computerised surveillance, biometrics or automation.

Staged in an extraordinary custom-built structure made with shipping containers next to the Science and Industry Museum’s 1830 Warehouse, Atmospheric Memory explores the beautiful tumult of the air we breathe – and ultimately celebrates the transience of the sounds that fleetingly live within it.

Future Sessions: Atmospheric Memory

Join us 2-8 July as we take you inside the themes and behind the scenes of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s breathtaking new work

More from Atmospheric Memory

Educational Groups

If you’re interested in booking a FREE visit for students to Atmospheric Memory, please complete the booking form at Science and Industry Museum and their Learning team will be in touch to confirm.

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Science and Industry Museum, FutureEverything, ELEKTRA / Arsenal Contemporary Art, Montreal and Carolina Performing Arts – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Produced by Manchester International Festival and curated with FutureEverything and Science and Industry Museum.
Supported by Wellcome.  
Accompanied by an education programme supported by The Granada Foundation.