**Update** Unfortunately the exhibition and final workshop were cancelled due to Covid-19. Rachael is currently ‘reformatting’ the project to give it an online presence. She is teaching herself how to do interactive graphics for the website, so as to widen participation and continue the project in a different form!!
The Fumifugiums Orchestra is a art/science project collaborating with families who live in close proximity to the Westway, A40 in London, created and led by artist Rachael Nee.
Over several months the families have been collecting data from air pollution monitors placed outside their homes. These were all within 500m of the Westway and varied between houses, flats and tower-blocks.
The focus has been on tiny PM2.5 sooty particulate matter, which has become an increasing cause for concern due to its effects on our health.
A software program was written to translate the information collected into sound. The music is played with either ‘Sonic Pi’ which is a digital sound synthesizer run on a ‘Raspberry Pi’ or through handmade ‘analogue’ electronic synthesizers’ It is then ‘played’ through musical instruments made by participants of workshops.
There are electronic workshops specifically for teens and other activities for local families. An exhibition and performance to follow in April 2020 at Maxilla studios, London.
The Fumifugium’, was the first known book on London air pollution written in 1661. The author, John Evelyn, referred to this problem (which was mainly soot) as ‘Smutty Atoms’.
The project is funded by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Arts Grant and supported by Acava, an educational arts charity.
Find out more about Rachael’s work here