If you were a tourist or a commuter this October near King’s Cross Station in London, you may have seen an inviting shelter of connected geodesic domes. But these domes did not provide shelter from the weather. Instead, entering these domes would confront you with some funky smells and foggy sights. Known as Pollution Pods, this installation by visual artist Michael Pinsky introduced visitors to the climate conditions of five sites that represent varying levels of air quality, smells, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and temperature.
The pods have traveled around the world and have been experienced by over 30,000 visitors. As people enter each dome, they experience a range of interior environments that ask them to reflect on the effects of climate change. In the first dome, Pinsky replicates the atmosphere in Trondheim, Norway. Here, the refreshing air acts as a basis for the pollution found on the other sites.
Visitors can then move on to a London pod that smells of diesel and tar and asks us to consider the way we get around. In the New Delhi pod, visitors can experience the replicated environment of the worst air pollution in the world. Here, the temperature is higher and visibility is low. The Beijing Pod invites visitors to experience the increased pollution of winters in this area and the smell of sulfur. In São Paulo, the air smells of vinegar and the ozone levels make the eyes water.
Once visitors have finished experiencing the polluted environment around the world, they end their journey back in the Trondheim pod where they began. This reinforces the drastic effects climate change is having on our environment.
Though Pollution Pods has since moved on from its King’s Cross location, having made a stop in Glasgow for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, you can look forward to finding the installation at other cities around the world.