On the 27th of June 2021 I had the honour to present the Audio-visual performance “ARIA” – (Air in Italian) – at the Borderline Festival of the Stegi Onassis Cultural Foundation in Athens, along with the Video artist Erato Tzavara and the musician Coti K.
How can you make Art from raw Air Quality data? You must ask an amazing experimental musician/composer like Coti K. Add the video artistry of Erato Tzavara and you end up with a unique Audio-visual performance that puts Air Quality into a different perspective.
We took Particulate Matter PM2,5 data from two Purple Air real time monitors located in Greece, one that has a relatively clean yearly average AQ, and one in a small village of Messinia with very poor average AQ. Coti K. composed his music based on the yearly data of the two monitors taken for the period from May 1st 2020 to April 30st 2021.
Erato Tzavara created the video using footage that I had taken around Greece to show places with clean air (like on the mountains, etc.) and places with bad air quality, like in the cities or at cement factories and power plants. Additional videos are from Giannis Dimitropoulos and Erato herself.
The video shows, with a moving chart, the Air Quality changes during the months of the year in Greece. It clearly shows the great difference in AQ that we can see during the warmer and the colder months. The colder months have a very poor Air Quality – actually toxic!, due to a general use of wood stoves and fireplaces both in larger cities and in villages. The use of wood is not regulated at all in Greece, actually the Government gives money incentives to use wood in winter to citizens living outside of bigger cities. What a irresponsible thing to do!
The winter months have such a bad Air Quality allover the country that we can’t dare to open the windows to get fresh air, especially at night. The difference of Air Quality between day and night is clearly visible in the video, with night peaks in which PM2,5 reaches over 300 μg/m3, especially when it’s colder and there is no wind. Cities like Ioannina, Larissa, Xanthi, Florina and so many more that are further away from the sea and that are not so windy, suffer from wood smoke pollution up to 6 months continuously, day and night. Athens, Patras and to some extent also Thessaloniki are a bit more lucky in this regard, because usually being by the sea they are more windy in winter and therefore the smoke often clears out more during the day. But of course the night is intolerable when so many thousands of wood burners turn on simultaneously.
My wish is that more such performances to be presented to the public in order to attract more attention to the problem of Air Pollution, which is so underrated by all authorities, but that kills yearly up to 8 million of people around the world, 400.000 of which in Europe and over 16.000 in Greece alone.