Felix Lenz - Political Atmosphere

Felix Lenz

Political Atmosphere

»Political Atmosphere« is the result of a several months long research process of tracing the invisible connections between flight turbulence, climate change and war.

locationVienna
year2020
filed asinstallation, research
project byFelix Lenz
initiated at& with generous support of: Design Investigations (ID2), University of Applied Arts Vienna
collaboratorsLeo Mühlfeld (coding); Christian Narat, Alpex Technologies (machining support)
exhibitionsArs Electronica Festical 2020, European Forum Alpbach, Angewandte Festival 2020, Vienna Design Week 2020
awardshonorable mention for »Futuring Peace«, United Nations (DPPA) & the Design Futures Initiative (DFI)
photographyFelix Lenz, Lukas Preisinger (Werkstätte Digitale Fotografie)

Description

About a century ago, Lewis Fry Richardson—a British meteorologist and peace researcher—theorised that the same methods he used to forecast atmospherical turbulences could be applied to predict political turbulences like conflicts and war. By considering contemporary climate science, this installation further explores his hypothesis in the context of the Anthropocene.
The complexity of these relations is made tangible by means of a data-driven, mechanical siren and an ADS-B antenna, which allows for receiving, processing and visualising the surrounding flight traffic. Each flight slowly accelerates the latent build-up of potential until a threshold is passed and a mechanism releases the siren.
The roar of the siren, both literally and metaphorically, has become a part of reality in conflict-torn areas. At last, it is starting to echo back on western society.

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Lewis Fry Richardson

The project elaborates on the research of the British meteorologist and mathematician »Lewis Fry Richardson«. He is best-known for being the first man to forecast the weather by means of numerical process. After experiencing the tragedies of the first world war, he shifted his attention to the field of peace research.
Richardson theorised that the same methods he used for the prediction of atmospherical turbulences could be applied to predict political turbulences like conflicts and war. While he unfortunately did not come to a conclusive result during his lifetime, I further developed his hypothesis in the context of the Anthropocene.

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ADS-B Data

ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast) technology is a standard flight tracking system that ensures real-time tracking of any aircraft within a range of 150 km, providing constant information about its position, speed, altitude and heading.
As part of the installation setup an exterior mounted antenna captures the open-data which is then processed and visualised by several custom scripts running on two RaspberryPis. I paired the data with a mechanical set of gears, adapting its speed in accordance to the current flight density and ultimately provoking the release of the siren.

Production

»Political Atmosphere« is a fully functional and custom engineered project. Due to high mechanical stress the components had to be manufactured with high precision, combining various production techniques, including cnc-milling, 3D-lasering, water-jetting, lasercutting, welding, 3d-printing and moulding.

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Ars Electronica Festival 2020

In September 2020 my work has been part of the Ars Electronica Festival — »In Kepler's Garden«. The installation was presented in an acoustically isolated space—enclosed by the facades of three multi-storey buildings—at the main festival area.

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Vienna Design Week 2020

Later the year the installation also made it to VDW. To the delight of the other exhibitors the siren could be heard across the whole festival headquarter.

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Angewandte Festival 2020

In the context of the Angewandte Festival I was giving a short speech about the project and its accompanying research. It was followed by a discussion with Anab Jain (head of Studio Design Investigations & co-founder of Superflux).