sensing place

every time we cross Stretford road

on the way to Hulme park

our air sensor shows spikes

of toxic gases and particulate matter

we keep going back 

to this grove of trees

on top of a little hill

in Hulme park 

it's like Hulme park is an island 

and all the roads surrounding it

are invisible rivers of pollution 

all the trees have grown the same height

but when we look closely

they are multispecies of ash, oak 

maple and beech

how to record a bloc of sensation

with multiple layers and scales

the hottest summer

ever recorded in this place

we wire the trees up with sensors

multiple cameras and microphones

a meshwork of string

drift from forest fires

smoke and ash

from distant events

the alarm on our No2 sensor 

triggered by the drift of the day 

our sensation of place

is characterised by drift 

Hulme park is a nexus of atmospheres

invisible movements, currents, flows

not just what we see, smell, and hear

fabrics and sheets from local op shops

imbued with people's lives and sensations 

saturated with the everyday affects of Hulme


place becomes a medium 

for feeling and thought

zooming in and zooming out

backgrounding and foregrounding

part-whole relations

details and totalities

patterns of contrast

harbouring a dark beauty

we experiment with different compounds 

using foods we brought along from home

strange mixtures and consistencies

an (in)edible landscape

with sensory regions and zones


with trees wired together

we can play them like instruments 

the proxemics of place

make for intricate feelings

and an excess of value

place senses and is sensed

place feels and is felt

place thinks and is thought

place shapes and is shaped

place values and is valued


Suzanne Smith (Z-arts)

David Rousell (Biosocial Lab, MMU)

Z-artists (age 11-14)