Edinburgh Fringe ‘crowd gas’ to be used in show

Malcolm Chisholm MSP with a carbon catcher. Picture: contributed
Malcolm Chisholm MSP with a carbon catcher. Picture: contributed
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The gas generated by the Festival Fringe’s crowds is to be measured and then used in a show by two artists.

A squad of people called “carbon catchers” will be making their way through the city measuring the amount of CO2 generated as audiences pack into theatres and galleries and traffic clogs the city’s streets.

Part of the project Spirit in the Air: CO2 Edenburg, the uniformed watchdogs will use state-of-the-art detectors to also find carbon hot spots.

Lead by environmental artists Tim Collins, Reiko Goto and Chris Malcolm, the team will gather real-time data in their studio-lab at the ­Edinburgh College of Art Tent Gallery, which will be open to the public.

One wall is covered in maps and photos while another tracks the carbon catchers’ interactions with the public, CO2 and the city. Monitoring stations will also be set up in venues such as the Lyceum and the ­National Galleries and parks such as Princes Street Gardens and Arthur’s Seat.

Mr Collins said: “Art can start debate and this is what we aim to do by using the latest scientific tools to reveal the source and form of CO2. We’re trying to see the environment and present it to people in a new way – like one of the early ­experiments by the impressionists and futurists.”

The portable CO2 detectors come from Glasgow-based Gas ­Sensing Solutions.

The initiative includes a series of discussions about CO2, and has been welcomed by Edinburgh North and Leith MSP Malcolm Chisholm, who has a close interest in environmental issues. He said: “There’s a continuing need to raise awareness of ­climate change and the arts have a very important ­contribution to make by ­encouraging debate.

“Tim and Reiko have found a really striking way to bring home the reality of CO2 emissions in Edinburgh and the need to find ways to build a more sustainable future, ­locally and worldwide.”

Spirit in the Air is co-­produced by Creative Carbon Scotland, which works with creative organisations to help reduce their emissions and encourages artists to help build a more sustainable country.

Director Ben Twist said: “Spirit in the Air is all about looking at how art can change the climate – practically, ­socially and politically. With levels of CO2 having reached worrying new highs this year, the need to act is more urgent than ever.

“Scotland’s arts, science and technology sectors are ­taking a lead by coming together at the Edinburgh Festival to ­highlight in a compelling and immediate way how human behaviour generates CO2.

“The Festival provides a superb opportunity to encourage people to discuss ways the arts and science can collaborate to take messages about climate change to a wider audience.”

Spirit in the Air will be held daily from noon to 5pm at the Tent Gallery on Westport until August 22.