A Breathing Room (2016) is a living installation, housed in a self-contained space and designed to explore and experience the gas exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen between humans and plant life thorough a personal, meditative and immersive experience.
The structure itself is part greenhouse and part science-fiction proposition, drawing upon aspects of biology, botany, ecological imaginary, and housing the correct number of plants (Approx 300) necessary for one person to breathe symbiotically with plant life.
The ‘breathing room’ is both a sanctuary and a reminder of the troubled ecological times we live in. It presents a simultaneously utopian and dystopian imaginary, by emphasizing the importance and the fragility of our most fundamental symbiotic relationship.
One at a time, visitors are invited to enter though a large open panel (doorway). Inside, a spiraling plant stand surrounds the breather, who spends time alone with the plant life; participating in and reflecting upon the exchange with these organisms. The resident plants represent local and indigenous flora, as well as plants that hold specific air purifying properties. These plant individuals already produce the local air, however here; visitors are encouraged to view this familiar vegetation in a new way. This project is part of a larger ongoing body of work and research that examines human-plant encounters and cultural imaginings of nature through participatory and collaborative works.
The architectural component of A Breathing Room was designed in collaboration with Calgary-based architect Matt Knapik in 2015. Conceived of as an architectural language based on plant forms, incorporating greenhouse technologies and referencing Buckminster Fuller’s utopian geodesic dome designs. The organic patterns and irregular shapes of our designs contrast Fuller’s repeated, regular shapes and conception of the earth as a ‘spaceship’ or a machine that can be modified or steered by human power and modes of standardization.