Atmospheric Memory - Manchester International Festival

Atmospheric Memory - Manchester International Festival



Hey readers, today we’re changing it up a little and throwing some culture your way!

Over the weekend, I travelled up to Manchester for their International Festival, to one of their main featured exhibitions – Atmospheric Memory.

Orchestrated by the genius Rafael Lorenzo – Hemmer, this exhibition stems from the work of Charles Babbage, a 19th century polymath. He held a theory that the atmosphere is a vast library that keeps record of every word that has ever been said and he imagined one day there would be a machine intelligent enough to capture this library. At the beginning of the exhibition, they ask; if you could hear the words of anyone through time, who would you pick?

Entering through a long chamber playing 3000 different sounds and noises, you are carried through by a responsive light system that follows your path, lighting the way to the other side. You come out into a vast warehouse, filled floor to ceiling with lights and bustling with sounds.

Throughout the exhibition, words, images and video are captured and immersed within the experience. A white dot circles the room carrying the voices of those recording at the top of the stairs, whilst the whole room lights up with flashes of CCTV live recorded inside the warehouse, capturing faces of those within it.

Weathervanes and water filled machines are dotted around the edge, entrapping the words and sounds of the room into movement and gentle splashes, adding to the awed hum the space.

At one corner, a paper bag filled with the breath of a late seminal composer whose name I now can’t remember!), slowly opening and closing, continually circulating her breath through plastic pipes and back into the bag, leaving an eery and breathtaking (pun intended) moment to reflect upon.


The highlight was an installation that can only be described as a smoky, lit glass wall. By speaking into a microphone in front of it, the wall emits a hazy smokes and forms the spoken words onto it’s surface. Our favourite – vegan – left a lingering message you can see below. It was both interactive and reactive, billowing smoke out into the room whilst emitting a hiss as each word and phrase appeared on it’s face.

It was truly one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen, truly immersive and both political and deeply personal.



Share this post


Leave a Comment

* Indicates a required field