As winter approaches, PVC pods start popping up all over London to give us cosy, festive igloos to enjoy some winter tipples inside. The five domes taking up residence in King’s Cross’ Granary Square might look more boozy bubbles, but they have a far more important purpose.
Created by Michael Pinsky, these pods are an experiment to see if art can change the way we perceive climate change and, ultimately, how we act on it. Each is climatically controlled and uses air quality, smell and temperature to accurately recreate the levels of pollution in five different locations across three continents.
From tomorrow (October 16), you'll be able to walk through the interconnected domes and travel from London to Beijing, São Paulo, New Delhi and Tautra, a remote peninsula near Trondheim, Norway. Spoiler alert: the Tautra pod is the only one that boasts “truly clean air”, created by taking air from London and removing all potentially harmful gases from it.
‘In the Pollution Pods, I have tried to distil the whole bodily sense of being in each place,’ Pinsky explained. ‘For instance, being in São Paulo seems like a sanctuary compared to New Delhi, until your eyes start to water from the sensation of ethanol, whilst Tautra is unlike any air you’ll have ever breathed before, it is so pure.’
Granary Square is just the first stop on these pods’ journey. After the installation ends on October 24, they’ll head up to Glasgow for the COP26 climate change conference, making stops in other cities along the way.
They’ll be accompanied by the Ride For Their Lives team, which is made up of staff from six UK children’s hospitals, who’ll be cycling the 800km from London to Glasgow. At each stop the pods make, the riders will be on hand to share information about the damaging effects of air pollution on our health and how it impacts climate change.