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The thin layer of atmosphere that clings to the surface of our planet is a fragile and corrupted brew. Air is in constant, restless migration around the globe, connecting us in the most intimate fashion. From the dust storms that sweep into Beijing from faraway deserts to the smog from Chinese factories that shrouds Los Angeles, our air, the ultimate commons, is tragically defenseless.

Images by David K. Ross, Jason Smith, museo areo solar

“This book is like having an art gallery in your hands.”



Introduction to ‘Air’

By John Knechtel

Air is invisible. We think of it, in Lisa Rochon’s words, as “A giant void. Nothingness.” Yet looks can be deceiving. The invisibility of air belies its volatile complexity, its richness, its density. Cut with traces of everything, air is the transparent solvent of the world. What then can be rendered beyond the void? Robert Kirkbride imagines that Old Master of the vanishing heaven, Piero della Francesca, as a hyperaware analyst of air’s disappearing act. In pursuing the air he becomes “an accountant of dust, cleverly charting the universal flow of particles with instruments and stratagems, tracing their transparent bodies in delicate geometries; colliding, dispersing, coalescing, vanishing.” If these vanishing points mark the limits of our perception, Piero’s painted skies hint at a plenitude beyond, blending upwards from white and rose to heavenly blue and black.

Select features from ‘Air’

Dangers in the Air: Aerosol architecture and...

By Javier Arbona

In the late months of 2009, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis validated some...


Fowl air

By Mei Chin

My mother is not thrilled with the prospect of my new houseguest, who will be...


Hurricane Bill

By Anita Lahey

Our stores were rye bread and wild salmon in cans. Water and D batteries. We...