Breath vessels

An exhalation. Embodied air, full of the waste of the human body as it churns air and environment into sustenance. Replete with meaning: the long exasperated sigh, the frail choked breath, the sound of sudden understanding. In Hebrew the word רוח can be translated as breath, wind, or spirit, as can the Hindu prana, Greek pneuma, Chinese qui, and Mayan ik. The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus (“breath”). Yet we rarely think about our own breathing unless it is endangered.

Breath Vessels (2015) gives visible creative power to the life-sustaining ritual of breath. Breath is the interface between our own bodies and our environment. It is not only deeply tied to our own biological and emotional life, but also affects those around us, as people read into our emotional state or we enter into cycles of physical exchange with people, plants, and other organisms.

In this interactive installation, a virtual 3D model is generated in realtime as one exhales into a handheld shell-like form. The strength and speed of the breath in each moment determines how wide the vessel is. These forms are then 3D printed or translated into ceramic through slipcasting or clay 3D printing. Each vessel transforms the ephemeral breath into a persistent record of a moment otherwise already lost to time.