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A Thousand Words For Weather: Artangel presents new sound installation at Senate House Library


Artangel will present a specially commissioned sound installation at London’s iconic Senate House Library featuring thousands of words for the weather in ten languages commonly spoken across the city. Opening on 23 June 2022, A Thousand Words for Weather is the first project to launch as part of a ground-breaking new alliance of artists and writers called the World Weather Network, initiated by Artangel and 28 cultural organisations around the world. 

Throughout three floors of Senate House Library, University of London, visitors will experience the sound of the weather as it responds to live data from the Met Office.

A collaboration with writer Jessica J Lee and sound artist Claudia Molitor, A Thousand Words for Weather offers a new multilingual ‘dictionary’ of words with their definitions to explore the role of translation and generate a shared language to describe our changing experience of climate and the environment.

To create the dictionary, Jessica J Lee worked with seven other UK-based poets to translate ten words for the weather into ten languages including Arabic, Bengali, English, German, French, Mandarin, Polish, Spanish, Turkish, and Urdu. The poets and translators who helped create the dictionary include Izdihar Alodhami, Nikhat Hoque with the Bengali British Poetry Collective, Leo Boix, Iris Colomb, Marta Dziurosz, Nina Mingya Powles and Ayça Turkoglu.

Software architect Peter Chilvers will create a bespoke playback system to input data from the Met Office, manipulating the installation’s sound mix in response to changes in the weather.

Positioning itself as a digital ‘weather station’ the new World Weather Network will invite artists and writers to report on environmental changes experienced locally that go on to form a complex and constantly fluctuating global climate system.

From Summer 2022, for one year, weather reports will come from stations in places as far reaching as, a coastline in Peru, a mountain range in India, a temple in Greece, a glacier in New Zealand, and a tropical rainforest in Guyana. Each organisation will share their reports on a new online platform which will also host a programme of talks and events with artists, writers and leading thinkers and climate scientists from different parts of the world.

A Thousand Words for Weather will open at Senate House Library on 23 June 2022 and run across the seasons during library opening hours until spring 2023. To accompany the installation, there will be a series of events, coordinated by the School of Advanced Study (SAS), inviting artists and writers to discuss climate change and the importance of connecting across languages, including best-selling novelist Jeanette Winterson and senior lecturer in climate science Professor Friederike Otto.

Update: There will be a special preview for current Senate House Library members on Monday 20 June between 3.00pm and 5.00pm when there will be an opportunity to meet the team and listen in, before A Thousand Words for Weather opens to the public later that week. It may be necessary to limit numbers on the day, so to be sure of a place please email to let us know you are intending to visit.

Senate House Library images for A Thousand Words for Weather. Photographer: Francesco Russo