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Science and Industry Museum

At once a daring artwork and a sensory performance, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's breathtaking immersive installation scours the atmosphere for the voices of our past.

Inspired by computing pioneer Charles Babbage's 180-year-old proposal that the air is a 'vast library' holding every word ever spoken, Atmospheric Memory asks: was Babbage right? Can we rewind the movement of the air to recreate long-lost voices? And if so, whose would we want to hear? 

Harnessing both state-of-the-art technology and classic phantasmagorical effects, Lozano-Hemmer's 'Atmospheric Machines' mine the air for turbulence caused by speech, then transform it into something we can see, hear and even touch—trails of vapour, ripples on water, epic 360-degree projections. These new artworks are presented alongside rare pieces from the Science Museum Group's collections.

Staged in an extraordinary custom-built structure next to the museum's 1830 Warehouse, Atmospheric Memory explores the beautiful tumult of the air we breathe—and ultimately celebrates the transience of the sounds that fleetingly live within it.


For details of the Manchester International Festival live events programme, see

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Science and Industry Museum, FutureEverything, ELEKTRA/Arsenal, Montreal and Carolina Performing Arts—University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Produced by Manchester International Festival and curated with FutureEverything and Science and Industry Museum.

Supported by Wellcome.

Accompanied by an education programme supported by The Granada Foundation. 

Photo: Miguel Legault/Antimodular