The Atmosphere is Dead, Long Live the Atmosphere!
Beijing City Vision Competition, 2014
El Hadi Jazairy + Rania Ghosn
Jia Fang, Chen Lu, Ya Suo
*In January 2014, Beijing had 26 smoggy days, with PM2.5 density hitting a record high of above 1,000 mcg. The air took on a pungently acid odor. The smog has become so thick that the city's natural light-starved masses flocked to watch the sunrise televised on a giant screen in the middle of Tiananmen Square. Residents donned air masks and left their homes to watch the only place where the sun would hail over the horizon that morning.
Granted, the story turned out to be a little hazier than that. It remains the emblematic image of a humanity that no longer takes for granted the unquestioned possibility of breathing. The fact of the living organism’s immersion in a breathable milieu arrives at the level of formal representation, notes Peter Sloterdijk in Terror from the Air, bringing the climatic and atmospheric conditions pertaining to human life to a new level of explication. Air was the last common property that belonged to all people collectively.The Atmosphere is Dead. Industrial smog, a series of sandstorms, and an escalating heat island effect skyrocket the average yearly temperature on Earth from 13.9 degrees to 25 degrees with some peeks at 87.5 degrees in the Western Sahara and the Gobi desert. You cant breath the air, you can’t see the sun.
The project proposes a scenario to speak of the city’s atmospheric conditions in the wake of heavy smog conditions in global cities, or what in Beijing has been dubbed the "Airpocalypse." It adopts a dark ecology aesthetic that at best prepares us for politics by drawing us into to the shadowy nature of the Earth.
What is the infrastructure of life for an Earth without the sun and the atmosphere? In Chinese mythology (cosmology), there were originally thirteen suns in the sky, who were all brothers. Once they decided to all go into the sky to play, all at once, making the world too hot for anything to grow. To save the people of the earth, a hero named Hou Yi shot down twelve of them with a bow and arrow, piercing 10 holes in the stratosphere at the level of the equator. There Shall be Light through the Smog! Following that, the Earth Ordinance Act proposed a rectangular World Grid of 100m by 100m, with Beijing as its baseline, to capture the energy of the sun. The power of the sun is then distributed to 10 mega-Flyhead-capsules that provide a climate-controlled dwelling to the World population of urbanites. The mega-city is the liveable interior, an atmospheric habitat, a greenhouse. On display, a series of rectangular globes enclose a miniaturized urban scene of some sort, often together with a model of a landscape, some have a built-in music box that plays an air by Marcel Duchamp, “Oh, I'm a breather, a respirateur. I enjoy it tremendously. Isn't that enough?"