The launch of the Human Sensor kicked off on the 23rd of July and it was a day packed full of speakers and a live performance at the end. Here’s what happened on the night for all of you that missed it!
Making the Invisible Visible
Finding 70 Oxford Road was an easy task as it used to be the old location for the Cornerhouse, which I found that people still mistake it for! Upon entering the venue, the place was still buzzing from the morning talks about Manchester Public Health and Air Pollution, it was still incredibly warm for the tail end of the heatwave but everyone was excited for the performance in the evening.
As we prepared the wearables and leaflets for the night, there was still a flurry of things to do. I accompanied Laura Parker the deputy director, to display the Human Sensor posters at Salder’s Yard for the location of the final show, and hurried back to get ready for the guests arrivals. We didn’t realise the location was quite a bit of a walk away but thankfully we managed to get back in time to add the finishing touches!
The night kicks off!
The clock ticked 7:30pm and the first guest arrived! As everyone started to filter in and settle, the presentations soon started. Alice Sharp the director of Invisible Dust began the evening explaining the concept of the not-for-profit company that aims to raise awareness for air pollution by partnering art with science, and then introduced the Human Sensor artist Kasia Molga. We then had a talk from the Kings College of London, Dr Ian Muwa about air pollution. Did you know air pollution is costing us billion of pounds, and it contributes to 40,000 deaths in the UK?! After the congratulating and thanking everyone that had been involved in the project: Kasia, the organisers and people behind the scenes, the fellows, the choreographer and the dancers, there was a short break before we were all ushered outside for the start of the performance!
Everyone stood outside in anticipation to see the wearables in action, and the buzz of talking stopped once the dancers started filing out one after the other. The dancers adorned in the LED lit wearable capes sparkled as they began their dance to the Sadler’s Yard, rotating and elegantly emphasising the breathing with their arm movements whilst they waited at every crossing. We followed them twisting and turning around a route through the city centre, bystanders were curious and also mind-blown at the bizzare looking wearables on dancers! Having worn the wearable cape before I know that it was quite restrictive, but the dancers were expertly moving around in them not putting a confident foot out of place!
When we reached Salder’s Yard the sun was fully set and the spotlights illuminated the venue with an almost romantic atmosphere. The final dance was a beautiful crescendo to the end of the night with a projected presentation in the background that had bite sized information and facts fading in and out. The whole performance gave me Goosebumps with the soundtrack being someone breathing that gradually sped up and became more laboured; it was almost like the breathing of something out of a horror movie! Teamed with the shocking air pollution facts on how it’s affecting the human body, it felt rather chilling but very powerful.
The launch night was a brilliant experience and although I did work for part of the night to help set up, it did not feel like work at all seeing the project blossom into something we are all proud of! I originally wanted to partake in this project to get experience working with more wearables, but I not only managed to wear it for the promotional video, I also learnt a lot more about air pollution and how it is a very real threat even here in Manchester. Knowing that I will part from this project with more skills and knowledge that I originally expected is a great feeling, but having met a brilliant group of fellows on the programme is priceless!
The Human Sensor is a project by Kasia Mulga and Invisible Dust to raise awareness of air pollution as part of the European City Of Science festival. Find out all of the information and photos of the events at the Human Sensor website www.humansensor.eu
Invisible Dust is continuing to work on raising awareness of air pollution with more artists and scientists in new projects coming soon. Keep up to date on their website here. The Human Sensor is coming to London! Keep your eyes peeled!
Find out more about the Human Sensor programme on the blog I wrote here.