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Pollution Allures

Pollution Allures is a work by Rosa Whiteley.

Pollution Allures explores forms of more-than-human collaboration and communication within toxic spaces and vegital worlds. For many creatures, smells are a main mode of chatter, gossip and exchange. Species often become aware of pollutants through smell, and through chemical signals they may warn eachother of danger or call out to loved ones for help. As human-made-chemicals flux within polluted environments, these chemical languages are shifting beyond recognition.

The stink of death and decay that echo through wastesystems draws fungi and bacteria close, allowing them to breakdown and remake forms of waste. For fungi, death signals the begining of life, between a world of sweetness and spoil, where they can inhabit and rebuild human systems into worlds of their own. Odor molecules from pollutants must move into plant cells and accumulate before they affect plant behavior. Some plants are drawn to polluted sites, thirsting for nitrogen rich road verges or metallic soils. In order to become familiar with environmental information, plants must draw it first into their very being. They therefore actively rearrange polluted spaces through their smell-based knowledge, diverting waste-streams and re-ordering pollutants; creating new worlds in worlds of residue. These plants do not collaborate with humans, but with the technological apparatus and chemical residues of human-made systems. Pollution Allures collects plants from across polluted sites in London and Rotterdam, forming an altered olfactory garden of species that rebuild polluted space, with plants that grow amongst bomb sites, the shadows of waste incinerators, or within illegal levels of London’s polluted air. These plants are all drawn to different forms of pollution, finding an invitation in a metal, or a feast amongst a roadverge. Separation between the living and artificial dissolves into an environment of warnings, love, desire and danger, in the chatter of heavy metal and plant root.

Humans also become aware of their chemical environments through taste and smell, however in thickly polluted airs, humans are loosing their ability to smell. Our noses need time and respite from degraded airs in order to continue to become sensible to them, to smell the warning of sweet metallic clouds or become aware of industries entering our lungs. The bedding of this garden is designed to ground smells, engineering the room’s atmosphere, and acting as a palette cleanser for the nose.

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