Between the Barometer and the Dragonfly with Office of Experiments

Central Pavilion of the Giardini,
Venice Biennale of Architecture, 2021

Installation in the Central Pavilion of the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2001. Office of Experiments worked on sound and light elements with Monsoon Assemblages led by architect and academic Dr Lindsay Bremner. The final installation integrates abstract light  and audio work created from temporal rainfall data of NASA satellites. Monsoon storms erupt in the space as a soundscape. Made from recordings of rainfall, lightning and thunder, the work as a whole conveys the movement and intensity of the seasonal event as it effects Dragonfly migration and changes in relation to climate change across three cities - represented by geological data on the columns; Yangon, Chennai and Dhaka, Bay of Bengal. Plinths and models were made by Monsoon Assemblages and Shape Studio. Additional Data Drawings by John Cook of Monsson Assemblages. Video field recording documentation of Globe Skimmer Dragonfly by Beth Cullen of Monoon Assemblages.  Background. Work by Territorial Agency. Photo credit Gerardo Cerja.

Above: Installation shots after exhibition closure, and during visiting hours. 
Below: Testing lights for installation.

Above: One of three Monsoon Storms in action (an 18 minute event structure).  

This documented experiment indicates that the challenge of capturing digitally the manifestations of the data driven light and audio as the human eye and ear are much more sensitive to change than the camera used here, or the recording device for that matter. The work is intended to be heard and felt in person.

The sneak peak video was made by John Cook and Beth Cullen of Monsoon Assemblages.

Between the Barometer and the Dragonfly. ‘How Will we Live Together‘
Central Pavilion, Giardini, Venice Biennale of Architecture, curated by Hashim Sarkis, MIT

An installation with Office of Experiments and Monsoon Assemblages. 

In an interdisciplinary collaboration,  the artist Neal White, working with Office of Experiments and Monsoon Assemblages (School of Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster) have collaborated on a project for the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2021. An installation titled ‘Between the Dragon Fly and the Barometer’, forms part of the main exhibition “How Will we Live Together” and is situated in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini. As a whole, the work examines the Indian Ocean monsoon from the perspective of the Globe Skimmer dragonfly and the impact of climate change on it.

Neal White’s contribution dislocates scientific knowledge into sensory encounters, using data to seed sculptural, auditory and temporal forms - otherwise known as ‘event structures’ (after John Latham). For these experiments, he worked with Bill Thompson (Composition) and Erik Kearney (Engineering) with temporal / meteorological data collated by Monsoon Assemblages from across the Indo-Pacific region, focussing on three spatial reference points, the cities of Chennai, Dhaka, and Yangon.

The work is realised as three consecutive 6 minute monsoon storms using different intensity and frequencies of light with audio generated from the downpours and lightning/thunder of monsoon recordings. Each was directly mapped against the peaks and troughs of 6 months of rainfall data (see below).

Drawing generated from NASA rainfall data siuated around three cities in Bay of Bengal. John Cook. Monsoon Assemblages.

Marking the hour, the work translates the atmospheres and marks the different shapes which each monsoon represents at a different location. Dragonfly follow the Monsoons as they sweep across the Bay of Benghal, an unfolding event that is considered the largest known migration of life in the world.

Brought together with additional forms of architectural information; models, visualisations as drawings and fieldwork documentation by Monsoon Assemblages, the installation reflects the changes occurring across the Monsoon event and rain periods.

Talking about the installation, Dr Lindsay Bremner of the Monsoon Assemblages project said: “In responding to the question posed by the curator of the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale, Hashim Sarkis, ‘How will we live together?’, Monsoon Assemblages teamed up with Neal White’s Office of Experiments to design an installation framed by the monsoon and the flight of the Globe Skimmer dragonfly. By drawing connections between geology, meteorology, monsoonal cities and nonhuman lifeways, our installation highlights the mutual entanglement of human and nonhumans in changing climates.”

Monsoon Assemblages is a five-year multi-disciplinary enquiry funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

A work in progress - Testing the installation / data storms with the team from Office of Experiments (Bill Thompson, Erik Kearney) and Monoon Assemblages (Lindsay Bremner, John Cook - Beth Cullen, out of shot) at Ambika P3, University of Westminster, London.

Data Drawing by John Cook of Monsoon Assemblages ©