We Do Not All Breathe the Same Air

By Tomás Saraceno

31 Jan 2022

Connecting art with environmental technology – one piece of air quality monitoring tape at a time


Blurring the lines between environmental activism and visual stimulation, artist Tomás Saraceno brings his latest multi-sensory works to Tasmania’s Museum of New Art (Mona) in a major new exhibition entitled Oceans of Air.

As one of the largest suppliers of BAM-technology air quality monitoring solutions globally, Acoem was approached by Mona to donate glass fibre filter beta attenuation monitoring (BAM) tape for the artist to incorporate into ‘We Do Not All Breathe the Same Air’– an artwork that currently graces an entire wall of one of the museum’s subterranean galleries.

Art for art’s sake while raising awareness of global issues 

Based in Berlin, the prolific Argentinian artist uses his artworks as a call for environmental action on the earth, its atmosphere and beyond. The piece that Acoem contributed to is made up of six oversized panels, depicting variation in air pollution in six locations across Australia, including three cities in Tasmania—nipaluna / Hobart, Launceston and Devonport.

According to Saraceno, “We live entangled lives…. (and) have toxified the air, rendering it unbreathable for many and forcing new regimes of inequality upon us all. Oceans of Air flows towards shared responsibilities with the worlds we inhabit, knowing that not all have the right to breathe, and that not all breathe the same air.”

David Walsh, Mona owner and founder said: ‘Once upon a time artists used to make beautiful things. Now, mostly, they want to change the world. Of the artists I know, Tomás Saraceno is the most likely to change the world. And he makes beautiful things.’


In the field to on the canvas

In the field, the glass filter tape collects samples of particulate matter (PM) and is an integral element of the Acoem Met One BAM monitor range with instruments that continuously measure the mass concentration of ambient PM in the atmosphere.

Acoem Met One BAM monitors (like the BAM 1022, BAM 1020 and E-BAM) employ an inline sampling geometry in which the attenuation of beta rays across filter media (the tape) is measured and PM is sampled simultaneously. They provide an accurate, real-time measure for pollution by detecting precise levels of the world’s most common air quality pollutants, PM10 and PM 2.5.

Like so many of Acoem’s projects, sourcing large amounts of used BAM tape from our monitoring sites across Australia was a collaborative effort. Acoem teams from Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria all contributed to bringing this artwork to life.

Tomás Saraceno’s Ocean Air exhibition – curated by Mona’s Emma Pike and Olivier Varenne –featuring We Do Not All Breathe the Same Air is on display at Mona until 24 July 2023.


*(Image credit: Jesse Hunniford, courtesy of Studio Tomás Saraceno and Mona, 2022)

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