Smog as art? Sample the world's most polluted cities' dirty air

Experience the effects of contaminated air from the world's most polluted cities -- then breathe easy in Norway, in this insightful installation by artist Michael Pinsky.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton


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We breathe in car exhaust, chemical fumes and other toxins every day, even more so when we choose to live in a city. 

British artist Michael Pinsky's Pollution Pods art installation, currently on display at Somerset House in London, reminds us that pollution is not the same worldwide. 

Inside five linked domes, Pinsky artificially recreated five different polluted atmospheres of London, New Delhi, Sao Paolo, Beijing -- with the cleanest air belonging to the dome representing Tautra, Norway.

The pods are climatically controlled which includes the temperature of each city represented. Each pod circulates non-toxic that is air scented to simulate the smell of each city's chemical fumes.

New Delhi's pod is hot and smoggy, while Sao Paolo's pod has scent that evokes eye-watering ethanol-based fuel fumes. The London pod pipes in a scent called Living Diesel that recalls the scent of multiple cars, according to a report from the Guardian

To get the pure, clean air of Tautra, Norway, the artist collaborated with an air purification company Airlabs

Pinsky used data from his own visits to the polluted cities, as well as scientific findings, then created the pods with the help of scientists and scent experts.

The art installation was originally commissioned by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, for the Climart project. The project focuses on how visual art can impact people's beliefs regarding climate change.