In 1995, Michel Serres, in conversation with Bruno Latour, pointed out that the global was in a phase of change towards a state “more liquid than solid, more air-like than liquid, more informational than material” (Serres & Latour, 1995, p.121). In a more positive sense, he proclaimed that the global was "fleeing towards the fragile, the weightless, the living, the breathing. In another sense, what Zygmunt Bauman has called "liquid modernity" (Bauman, 2000) may already have reached a far more accelerated degree of change and uncertainty that can only be represented and further understood by an even more volatile state of matter. Could the global be entering its gaseous phase in relation to the increasingly technological mediation of the present?
Of Air and Objects was born out of such speculative questioning, proposing to explore the physical and phenomenological qualities of the gaseous state of matter in relation to the global shift to data, in order to understand the complexities and possible formations that an "air-like" reality might contain. What kinds of modes of existence can be established in such ephemeral times? What happens to notions of the individual, the collective, and the global in an era of increasingly blurred boundaries and accelerated change? How might technologies of data collection, machine learning, and data visualization be re-appropriated to speculate on such change? How much of "life" is actually left, and how might life be reshaped and reimagined through technological speculation?
The research began by analyzing the "weak signals" of such a shift from the solid back to the liquid state (Hafenkante, 2015), went through the hacking of open data banks to speculate on the fleeting existence of an island as a living cartographic error (New Velocity, 2015), and culminated in the sense space of air as a living territory that embodies the uncertainty of the present technologically mediated times (The Aerographer, 2016).