Suffocating City Bristol

A new piece of interactive public art, set to be presented as part of Bristol Ideas’ Festival of the Future City in October, will challenge spectators to take action to tackle the impact of air pollution on our cities and their inhabitants.


Suffocating City installation will raise public awareness of the worsening problem of urban air pollution and encourage people to adopt a greener approach to city living to help address the climate emergency. Air quality has been identified as the greatest environmental threat to public health globally.


Funded by Arts Council England, the animation represents the city as a living organism with a heart, lungs, and intestines; industrial pipes are attached to these human organs, symbolising the brutal impact of industrialisation and air pollution on our health.


Suffocating City will be projected onto the Arnolfini in Bristol from 18-19 October 2023 as part of Bristol Ideas’ Festival of the Future City. Members of the public will be encouraged to interact with the installation by using pedal power to keep the ‘organism’ alive.


The imagery has been inspired by the concerns of community groups in Bristol and informed by research carried out by The Met Office and members of the Clean Air Champions.


Creator Leo Jamelli says, “The organs will struggle to function and almost suffocate due to air pollution; I wanted to take a different approach with the imagery for this project to show inhabitants of large urban areas, who may seem disconnected from the natural world, that climate issues will also have a serious impact on those living in our cities.


“As the animated organs begin to fail due to air pollutants, the heart goes into cardiac arrest. An old-fashioned exercise bike acts as a defibrillator, and spectators can take action by pedalling to charge it up – helping bring the city back to life. The suggestion is that alternative forms of greener energy can help save our cities.”


Bristol was the European Green Capital in 2015 and has now declared a climate emergency. High levels of air pollution have led to the development of the newly introduced Clean Air Zone.


Leo’s hand-drawn animation will be accompanied by sound, created by Moss Covered Technology, aka Grieg Baird, breathing life into this huge project. Devon-based Stage Engage is providing the equipment for the projection at a reduced cost.


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Arts Council England