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Atmospheric Heritage: Experimental Preservation Approaches Between Art and Science

Fri, Sep 22    1:30pm

Join us for the 2023 Fitch Preservation Colloquium “Atmospheric Heritage: Experimental Preservation Approaches between Art and Science,” organized by Jorge Otero-Pailos, Professor and Director of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). The event will be moderated by Andrés Jaque, Dean of Columbia GSAPP; Carol Becker, Professor of the Arts and Dean Emerita, Columbia University School of the Arts; and Erica Avrami, the James Marston Fitch Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia GSAPP, and will take place on September 22 from 1:30–7:00 PM.

Preserving the atmosphere is widely considered today as a civilizational imperative, and the central pillar in humanity’s ability to meet the existential threat of climate change. Yet what is meant by the terms “preservation” or “atmosphere” in this case, and the potential opened up by bringing them into mutual proximity, is seldom seriously questioned or explored. New ideas are emerging out of this proximity, such that the atmosphere is humanity’s common heritage, sparking new interest in preservation among a variety of disciplines. The rich history of preservation’s successes in protecting the atmosphere is being rediscovered, including pioneering work to protect scenic views from development, reduce airborne pollution to increase visibility in natural parks, and controlling light pollution in night skies among others. In turn, preservation is also opening up to new interdisciplinary exchanges. Atmospheric heritage’s immense scale, fluid physics, socio-environmental impact and geopolitical significance is challenging preservationists to rethink basic assumptions such as what a cultural object is, where it ends, who is able to care for it, and what institutions can support and enforce its protection. In pursuit of this rethinking, preservationists are engaging with a new and broader range of disciplines. Among them, the Fitch Colloquium will focus on preservation’s productive exchanges with the earth sciences and contemporary art, exploring a range of experimental preservation practices engaged in atmospheric heritage.


  • Michael Morris, producer, co-director emeritus Artangel (UK) and co-convenor of World Weather Network
  • Sharolyn Anderson, Physical Scientist, Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, National Park Service
  • Gisela Winckler, Lamont Research Professor and Associate Director of the Geochemistry Division at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
  • Shona Illingworth, artist and Professor in Art, Film and Media at the University of Kent (UK), and co-founder of the Airspace Tribunal
  • Giuliana Bruno, cultural theorist, Emmet Blakeney Gleason Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University and author of Atmospheres of Projection: Environmentality in Art and Screen Media (Chicago, 2022)
  • Nerea Calvillo, architect and Associate Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick (UK) and author of Aeropolis: Queering Air in Toxic Polluted Worlds (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2023)
  • David Gissen, author, designer, Professor of Architecture and Urban History at The New School, and author of Manhattan Atmospheres (Minnesota, 2013)
  • Lindsey Wikstrom, architect, co-founder of Mattaforma, and author of Designing the Forest and Other Mass Timber Futures (Routledge, 2023)
  • Mark Wasiuta, architect, writer, curator, co-director of Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices program at GSAPP, and co-designer of “Instructions for the Reconstitution of Historical Smog” (2011)
  • Anna Lea Albright, Postdoctoral Researcher, Laboratory for Dynamic Meteorology, Sorbonne University (France);
  • Alice Sharp, Artistic Director and founder of the art and environment organization Invisible Dust;



1:45–3:10pm: PANEL 1:Atmospheric Imperatives: scaling-up imaginations

  • Michael Morris
  • Gisela Winckler
  • Lindsey Wikstrom
  • Moderated Discussion by Andrés Jaque, Dean of Columbia GSAPP

3:10–3:30pm: COFFEE BREAK

3:30–5:05pm: PANEL 2: Atmospheric sightings: evidence, values and publics

  • Sharolyn Anderson
  • David Gissen
  • Anna Lea Albright
  • Nerea Calvillo
  • Moderated Discussion by Erica Avrami, James Marston Fitch Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia GSAPP

5:05–5:25pm: COFFEE BREAK

5:25–7:00pm: PANEL 3: Atmospheric expressions: air rights, responsibilities and creativities

  • Shona Illingworth
  • Alice Sharp
  • Mark Wasiuta
  • Giuliana Bruno
  • Moderated Discussion by Carol Becker, Professor of the Arts and Dean Emerita, Columbia University School of the Arts


This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required for all attendees.

Image Credit: Shona Illingworth, Topologies of Air, 2021. Digital still. Three-channel digital video and multichannel sound installation, 45 min. Courtesy the artist. Commissioned by The Wapping Project.