We Live in an Ocean of Air (Video Edition)
We Live in an Ocean of Air is a large-scale video installation adapted from a multi-sensory immersive installation.
We Live in an Ocean of Air is a large-scale video installation where the invisible connection between plants and humans is revealed through breath. The tree’s cardiovascular system interacts with the mirrored natural networks that unite the forest: nutrients flow in and out of leaf, phloem and mycelium, placing our every inhale and exhale of the forest into a larger reciprocal system.
There have been up to ten mass extinction events in the Earth’s history. Nearly all have been caused by an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide: too much oxygen and things get cold; too much carbon dioxide and things get hot. In an age where excess carbon dioxide is fuelling climate change, the simple act of breathing can engage us with this cycle in an intimate way, and in doing so help us reflect on our dependence and responsibility to the organisms we share the planet with.
It may also re-engage us to the 2700 litres of oxygen-laced blood that circulates our body each day – and to the indebtedness we owe to the fallen autumnal leaf.
The Science Behind the Experience
Plants take CO2, water and sunlight and turn it into organic matter in a process called photosynthesis. They release oxygen as a waste product. Animals eat the plants and break them down using oxygen to get energy in a process called respiration. They release CO2 and water as waste products.
One process provides the raw materials for the other. It works so neatly that mice (and even humans, although don’t try this at home) can live in a sealed jar if there’s a plant inside.
Currently oxygenic photosynthesis is the only natural process known that can sustain the super-high concentration of atmospheric oxygen (21%) found on Earth.
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