Human beings operate within the homosphere, which is literally our airspace. This is the section of the earth’s atmosphere closest to the earth, where the composition of the air is quite constant. It encompasses the entire globe and extends up to the point where space begins. Airspace has no contours. It forms a zone marked by boundaries that do exist, although they are latent, and it consists of invisible gases and elements that cannot be discerned by the naked eye. Only when objects such as aeroplanes or drones cross it or it is polluted by substances that we can see or smell do we truly understand that airspace affects us humans as much as it does the ground on which we walk.
It is what directly connects us all as human beings. We inhale whatever we encounter in our immediate surroundings, actively absorbing it into our body: fresh, clean air, which is much more often than not polluted with a mixture of gases. Everything that traverses it can affect, hurt and wound our bodies. But the opposite is also true: people have a direct impact on airspace, which acts as
a transit zone for materials, movements, subjects and objects alike. Whatever we emit into the space around us can have a harmful effect on it. In short: airspace and human beings are in a reciprocal relationship; we share what we disgorge, transport and distribute.
People’s interaction with airspace is nonetheless often unconscious or passive. Yet ever since aerosols started determining our everyday interactions during the Covid-19 pandemic, since the war in Ukraine has triggered vociferous calls to close its airspace, since the fear of poison gas or nuclear weapons being used has arisen once more, our perception of airspace and its relevance has become that much more acute. For not only does it transport viruses, it also carries and spreads dust, cigarette smoke, fumes, gases and munitions.
All this makes one very specific aspect of airspace very obvious: it is a fluid space that is ultimately uncontrollable, it can expand in a way that cannot be seen by the human eye, it lacks any clear contours or boundaries, it can be crossed at high speed, and it almost completely surrounds every single person. And this is what makes it so vulnerable and yet so very dangerous. Visibility is fundamental not only to human perception but also to our judgement, and we need boundaries in order to protect ourselves.
The human organism as a whole is based on a sensitive balance between permeability and impermeability. In other words, it is often only when our body reacts that we know if something is moving through our airspace and, in some cases, what that is – and that it has ultimately secured entry. It might be the carbon dioxide we breathe in, or the teargas sprayed by security forces, or an aerosol doused in virus. There is far more going on in airspace than people perceive, or think, or even fear.
Homosphere addresses this ubiquitous but invisible sphere, interpreting it as a space for what is unknown or unexpected, for the frequently clandestine attacks not only on the human organism but also on people, society and nature – and as such it is a potential danger zone within the earth system.
The exhibition is supported by Ministery of Familie, Frauen, Kultur und Integration Rheinland Pfalz.
Curated by Stefanie Böttcher.