The artwork “Air Pressure” (A diary of the sky) is a new multi-channel video and audio installation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, winner of the third Future Fields Commission in Time-Based Media jointly awarded by Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The artist is an independent audio researcher whose work examines the political dimension of sound through a plurality of media such as sound recordings, surveillance technologies, and archival materials. His new work “Air Pressure” (A diary of the sky) explores the ecology of noise peculiar to Lebanese airspace, and focuses in particular on incidents in which the Israeli Air Force crossed Lebanese skies in violation of agreements between the two nations mediated by the United Nations Security Council. Through a sound and film installation, the work renders these recurrent violations in a tangible way, offering a reflection on the atmospheric violence that has become part of Lebanese daily life.
To produce this work, Abu Hamdan over the past two years has collected hundreds of videos, shot by community members across Lebanon, who turned their cell phones skyward at the moments the acoustic explosions caused by the military flights occurred. While some of these videos were recorded by Abu Hamdan himself or by friends and neighbors, most were collected by the artist through social media using the Arabic hashtag #حربي_بالجوواء (which translates to #warintheatmosphere). In the commissioned work, the footage of these forays into the sky are
associated with the soundtrack formed by their violent booms, offering an audiovisual diary of aerial and sonic encroachments.
Projected on a tilted screen made of stitched oilcloth, Abu Hamdan‘s film is based on a script, narrated in Arabic and subtitled in English, written by the artist. The voiceover illustrates the research methodology adopted by Abu Hamdan over the past two years and recounts, like a diary, the monthly details of Israeli incursions into Lebanese airspace.