Atmospheric Conditions - Day 3
Sofia Steinvorth: Jabulani, we started our conversations talking about infrastructure and its undeniable influence in our lives - both in public space and our domestic environment. How do the skies in Atmospheric Conditions reflect the sudden and dramatic change Covid-19 has brought in terms of a "normal" functioning of our infrastructure?
Jabulani Maseko: At some point early in February NASA released some satellite images of the world highlighting the reduction of pollution from some of the most densely populated cities in the East, namely China. These images did the rounds and generated conversation. Shortly after, as the Covid-19 scenario moved further afield, more satellite images were released showing other world landmarks which are renowned for their heavy human traffic - deserted. These images were one of those reminders of how we are being watched from above. Later on, around mid-March, I encountered an article talking about the lack of parking space for aeroplanes as more and more airlines were grounding their fleets due to the reduced numbers of passengers from the spreading lockdown we were experiencing. It was for the first time at this point that I started to look up and notice how much emptier the sky was, how much quieter the atmosphere was. Traffic on the ground was reducing dramatically, and it was reducing in the sky, too. We were living an unprecedented moment. We had been ordered to stop moving; we had been ordered to stay home. All the tools and instruments of modernity had been paralysed and we were all still awake to see it. It was at this point I decided to point my camera skywards. Firstly, to observe the sky without the distraction of any aeroplanes criss-crossing. Secondly, and equally importantly, to embrace this order to pause. After all, this is what it was going to be – a momentary pause before having to get back up and get on with the business of rushing around again. Up until this point, nobody could remember a time in living memory where we had been ordered to put down our tools and go inside, during peace time, and wait. Suddenly, we were starting to understand that this modern world where one is expected to be a fully participating player, this being signified best by how far and how fast one can move, was built on a strangely precarious infrastructure. An infrastructure which only works as long as everything and everyone is moving frantically. Should any cog of this machine need to stop completely the repercussions reverberate all the way down the line in ways we had never imagined before.