Andrew Styan


Life Support System / Catch Your Breath


Two works use air as a medium to address the complex social and ecological challenges of our time at the global and the personal scale.

Every atom of the air we inhale has been part of the life cycle of another organism, the natural processes of the Earth’s systems, and the man-made processes of our economic systems. With the origins of our contemporary crises lying in the relationship between these global systems of nature, humanity and economics, Life Support System presents a model for visualising them at a human scale. Two vessels, symbolising nature and humanity, inflate and deflate with rhythms suggesting breathing and the cycles of nature. They are enclosed within another sphere that symbolises the economy and is inflated to a pressure governed by live share market data. The operating parameters and flow within the model are displayed on a screen mimicking a medical vital signs monitor.

At another extreme Catch Your Breath contemplates the intimacy of our breath, making this visible through the action of blowing a bubble in a tank of water and freezing it with high-speed flash photography. The resulting image promotes an understanding of the unique beauty of our own breath. Measuring the shape of our breath — ‘profiling’ in the language of forensics and marketing — allows us to compare it with those of others and to perhaps better appreciate our collective breath.

Life Support System

interactive inflatable sculpture

350 x 300 x 300 cm

Catch Your Breath

interactive photographic installation

dimensions variable

Andrew Styan is an emerging new media artist interested in developing strategies for shifting public engagement with the challenge of climate change. Using electronics, computer coding, interactivity and electromechanical devices to create installations, videos and kinetic objects, his practice makes visible the underlying causes of climate change. These conceptual and material concerns reflect a former career in industrial research as a metallurgist in the steel industry, and lifelong interests in nature, photography and science. Styan has exhibited widely locally and nationally and in 2015 he was awarded the University of Western Australia’s prestigious Dr Harold Schenberg fellowship for graduating artists. His recent theoretical and practical research focuses on the socio-economic origins that are common to all crises of ecology, equality and democracy. He is interested in the psychology behind the individual and collective inability to tackle these crises, and the social agency of contemporary art practices and institutions.

Top - photo courtesy of Rebecca Carey © Rebecca Carey. Bottom - photo courtesy of the artist © the artist