Using cutting-edge technology, the work explores the invisible connection between plant and human through breath, allowing the viewer to interact with an entire ecosystem around a giant sequoia tree – the largest living individual organism on the planet.
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Robin McNicholas of Marshmallow Laser Feast, says: ‘The installation challenges assumptions of our current “age of distraction,” where technology is accused of disconnecting people from society and the environment. Instead, “We Live in an Ocean of Air” uses sensors, virtual reality headsets and multi-modal stimuli to catalyse a group experience that embeds us in planetary cycles and shared natural rhythms.’
Fusing architectural tools, contemporary imaging techniques and performance with tactile forms, Marshmallow Laser Feast sculpt spaces that lay dormant until animated by curiosity and exploration.
Incorporating breath sensors, heart rate monitors, binaural sound, scent dispersal systems and wind machines, We Live in an Ocean of Air extends the boundaries of experience design, offering an unparalleled level of immersion.
The breath and heart sensors track real-time breathing, encouraging the viewer to reflect upon their dependence on and responsibility to other organisms. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are made visible; with each exhale of your breath – the very essence of life – is seen before you, while all around, nature explodes in blazes of breathtaking light and colour. In one sequence, the viewer experiences flight, sailing seventy meters into the sky to the canopy of the sequoia, while dragonflies dart magically through its branches and foliage.
Created in 2018, We Live in an Ocean of Air, which lasts 20 minutes in total, builds on earlier works by Marshmallow Laser Feast, including the award-winning Treehugger, winner of the Storyscapes Award at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, and In the Eyes of the Animal, which was shown at the 2015 Sundance Festival and received a Wired Audi Innovation Awards in Experience Design.
Ersin Han Ersin of Marshmallow Laser Feast, says: ‘In this and other works we have created, we are seeking to repair our broken connection with nature through the experience of art. From the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, humanity’s dependence on the natural world is absolute, placing the audience in the centre of these ecosystems, we aim to bring them closer to an understanding of our interconnectivity.’
Philippa Adams, Director of Saatchi Gallery, says: ‘Saatchi Gallery has always worked with and supported artists who push the boundaries, and this astonishing work by Marshmallow Laser Feast certainly does that, fusing technology with art to unlock new ways of understanding and experiencing the world around us.’
Barney Steel of Marshmallow Laser Feast, says: ‘We live in an Ocean of Air can be experienced both individually and collectively; experience prioritised over passive contemplation. The wider gallery allows multiple tiers of immersion, with large projection screens welcoming audiences into the heart of the environment, before expanding to reveal the scale of the digital forest that lies ahead.’