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A #SmogFreeMovement beyond art and innovation

English version below

Mentre il Washington Post dice che Milano e Torino saranno tra le città Europee più inquinate (le vedete in rosso con poche altre nella mappa), nella classifica di Legambiente vedrete che il problema riguarda tanti altri comuni.

Una grossa sconfitta non solo politica e tecnologica, ma soprattutto economica e culturale del nostro Paese: nonostante decenni di bombardamento media, lo smog rimane lì sospeso a ricordarci quanto il nostro concetto di sviluppo economico sia fondato sulla distruzione degli equilibri naturali, mentre la costante fobia del PIL moscio ci costringe a una alternanza di produzione di beni e di loro consumo oltre ogni reale bisogno.

Questo, il più attuale dei temi, è finalmente preso in considerazione da una piccola cerchia di artisti/innovatori, come l’olandese Daan Roosegaarde, noto per la sua “poesia-tecno”, ossia spettacolari installazioni tra arte, design, e sostenibilità.

Finanziato su Kickstarter, il suo Smog Free Project apre il 4 Settembre a Rotterdam con l’inaugurazione della Smog Free Tower, una torre itinerante in grado di creare un buco di area fresca trasformando lo smog in pietre simili a diamanti, e mostrare il cielo nella sua purezza. Oltre a cercare di far breccia nel cuore della gente con il blu più intenso e i cristalli più trasparenti, Daan organizza una serie di eventi con operatori locali intorno al tema dell’inquinamento e quali nuove iniziative attuare.

Daan chiede al web di segnalare quali città toccare col tour della Smog Free Tower usando l’hashtag #SmogFreeMovement sui social media, e ai comuni di invitare il progetto. Io aggiungo che gli operatori culturali dovrebbero unirsi al movimento: l’ambiente è ciò che di più “contemporaneo” l’arte e la cultura possano trattare.

L’invito da parte delle nostre città sarebbe un buon inizio per evitare che le previsioni del Washington Post si avverino.

ENGLISH

How are we supposed to really care about pollution when most of mainstream media are busy at keeping us afraid of economic recession, and hungry for a “growth” based on the systematic creation of waste in all forms, solid or gassy? Why should we care when an organisation like the World Economic Forum publishes a misspelled list of mostly obscure Indian cities  as the most polluted ones? Where did all of those legendary ozone holes go? Antarctica and Australia?

Daan Roosegaarde, Dutch artist and Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, thinks that there is one thing that might push people to seriously reconsider the problem of city pollution: reminding them the true colours of the sky by creating a smog-eating tower.

park

The artist, that describes his famous hybrid environmentally conscious art installations and creative solutions as “techno-poetry”, got inspired for his latest creation by the density of the smog in Beijing (see the CCTV tower below), but most of all by the general loss of interest around this huge global issue.

Smog Beijing CCTV Tower

While we all know that in each and every country there’s a couple of cities where breathing itself feels carcinogenic, all of that technical information about smog and pollution, that’s been around for decades now, has become collateral, contradictory news.

From Obama that just allowed Shell to keep on “drilling in environmentally sensitive waters”, to Europe becoming a “global dumping ground for cheap coal”, from the enthusiastic headliners of mainstream publishers claiming the incredible success of the green economy, to more accurate analysis from independent sources, environmental information looks like a war of governmental publicists.

Announced in 2013, Roosegaarde (see pic below) just achieved the Kickstarter funding goal for the Smog Free Tower, that will be inaugurated in Rotterdam with a live stream on September 4, and is now aiming at getting funds for a world tour of the installation, with the priority of stopping by extra-polluted cities like Beijing, Mexico City, Paris and Los Angeles.

daan

The campaign was particularly successful also thanks to the unique rewards: crystal rings and cufflinks obtained by the compression of 1000m³ of smog each (see pic below). Some wedding couples are apparently waiting for the rings to be produced to get married.

The tower, based on the ionic purifying technologies used in hospitals, “creates holes of 50-60 metres of clean air so you can see the sun again”, “needs around 1500 watts of energy, which is the same as your normal vacuum-cleaner or coffee machine …it runs on green wind energy, and solar power is in the make.”

smog ring

Roosegaarde thinks of the project as a means of emotional reconnection to clean air and sky, that might spark a cultural movement for smog-free cities. “The desire for progress in combination with healthy cities is the challenge. We have to adapt our life style and re-invent the future. Old systems are crashing, new ones have to be invented.” “Clean-tech industry, electrical cars, pro-bicycle lanes, smog free parks all are incentives to create awareness and action. And we need leadership who makes these tough but needed decisions.”

In each city the tower will be at the centre of different activities such as “pro-bicycle organisations, NGO’s, smart city debates and more”.

Everybody can help Daan to bring the tower to their city, by keeping on donating on Kickstarter, signalling your city as a tour stop with your social media using #SmogFreeMovement, and ask your city council to invite Studio Roosegaarde.

Smog Free Park Roosegaarde

by Marcello Pisu