As part of the “Air Walk: Environmental Monitoring in NXG” pilot project, we developed a low-tech map and pamphlet that walkers could use to note the itinerary and stops along the walk route. This paper “device” forms part of our approach in thinking through how air is materialised in and through not just digital kits for sensing air through sensors and circuits, but also through notebooks and guides, maps and historical diagrams.

Several of the images featured in the pamphlet include, for instance, 19th Century diagrams for documenting microbes in the air in Calcutta, as well as 18th Century diagrams of instrumentation used in earlier studies of air and its properties. This approach was particularly fitting for this walk in New Cross and Deptford, as one of the sites along the way included John Sayes’s former estate, where he wrote Fumifugium, a tract on air pollution.

What are the ways in which air and air quality have been sensed, monitored and made into an object of political deliberation? How do monitoring and observational technologies perform and capture understandings of air and air quality?

Images: “Air Walk” pamphlet, diagrams of spores, pollen and mold in air samples

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