Drawing Breath(less) (website)

Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/site


Drawing Breath(less) is a practice-led research project presenting artistic experimentations with photography and sculpture that respond to impacts of climate change. Fleeting moments of holding one’s breath in the urban environment, such as when crossing the road during heavy traffic, or after inhaling cigarette smoke when first emerging out of the train station, are small and frequent reminders of the impacts of air pollution on our body and health. These and other breathless moments, the pause of breathing appearing in sleep for example, offer opportunities to contemplate the body’s fragility and dependency on clean air and the ability to draw breath, as well as the myriad connotations arising from breath, taking a last breath and the silence that follows.

Drawing from these ideas about breath and breathlessness as a form of urban exploration and survival, the exhibition brings together two bodies of work: The first is an imprint of a sleeping human, a postnatal body, recorded first in sand, then plaster, and finally in latex - capturing the traces of the making process. The second maps the artist’s surrounding environment in London through long circular walks. Using a portable air quality monitor, and alert to the invisible threat of air pollution, the walks were routed by efforts to avoid or bypass polluting factors in the urban environment. Throughout the walks a polaroid camera was used to record encounters and traces in the urban space. The polaroid film’s unstable and unpredictable properties create a unique and tangible object, highly susceptible to the environment, lighting conditions and the state of the film. These images dwell on the invisibility of the air pollution around us, as well as providing a record of junctures in a route formed by the artist’s precarious and futile attempts to defend herself from its impact. Exploring two- and three-dimensional methods of representation alongside, and inspired by, scientific processes of mapping and data collecting, the works seek tangible ways to engage with what is often considered ungraspable in relation to climate change.

This work is part of the interdisciplinary and international project on the Impacts of climate and the environment on physical activity and sleep. This is a joint project by University of Engineering and Technology (Viet Nam), Viet Nam National University (VNU) and University of Portsmouth (UK).

This project is supported by the UK/Viet Nam Season - Education grant from the British Council.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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