The online archive project Viral Atmospheres engages the atmospheres of the Corona pandemic to understand how the pandemic came to constitute a social crisis of planetary scale. It aims to reflect on the ways the pandemic is affecting us by exploring feelings as atmospheres. We are interested in the images, words, sounds, and materials providing a sense of the feelings, which powerfully shape our perception of the pandemic.
Viral Atmospheres builds on and connects the research of the country teams in the DRC, South Africa, South Korea, and Germany studying the regimes of (im)mobility in the pandemic. In specific our project asks how space constitutes a medium for sensing and perceiving this crisis. Public health response measures—isolation, lockdowns, social distancing—as much as places —hospital wards, homes, and public spaces—demonstrate that feelings have a distinctive spatial dimension. Viral atmospheres, in that matter, are spatially manufactured feelings that spread beyond the realm of the individual, defining new felt spaces of living and surviving during the pandemic.
We are specifically interested in the social tensions amplified by these feelings, bursting into mistrust. A broad range of commentators has been framing this mistrust as a central problem of contemporary science communication.
Viral atmospheres is a suggestion for approaching the problem of mistrust. It is a suggestion to develop new forms of expressions that engage feelings in the way they affect us and thereby inspire new forms of communication. We will experiment with practices of immersing into the atmospheres of the pandemic, staging and restaging the atmospheres of a pandemic, and reflect on words, images, and sounds that allow us to construct alternative atmospheres of openness.
This project is in cooperation with HJ Dilger (FU Berlin), Julia Hornberger (University of Witwatersrand), BK Seo (Yonsei University), Nene Morisho (Pole Institute, DR Kongo)