Up In Smoke

Air pollution is not just an environmental issue; it’s a silent killer, claiming more lives annually than the recent pandemic. Up In Smoke is a visual exploration of this invisible threat, focusing on waste incineration, a contributor often ignored.

Despite being touted as an environmentally friendly solution, waste incinerators emit harmful pollutants such as dioxins, mercury, and particulate matter, along with noise that exceeds safe levels. My personal investigations, sparked by the incessant hum of an incinerator near my home, and data collection have revealed these unsettling facts. These facilities are disproportionately located in the UK’s most deprived neighbourhoods, exacerbating the risks for already disadvantaged individuals.

Through a blend of documentary, landscape, and aerial photography, Up In Smoke unveils the stark reality of these environments. I chose these styles to capture the scale of the issue, the beauty of the landscapes at risk, and the stark contrast between the two. The project also incorporates text, audio, and moving images to provide a multi-sensory experience, further immersing the audience in the issue.

The goal of Up In Smoke is not just to raise awareness but to inspire tangible action. By understanding the severity of the issue and our role in it, I hope viewers will be moved to advocate for cleaner waste management solutions. Together, we can contribute to a healthier future for our communities and our planet.

Locating London waste incinerators within London Indices of Deprivation 2019.
Areas in red show areas of high deprivation. While areas in green represent low deprivation.
Data obtained from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG).