The air we exhale at 37 C, is 100% saturated with water, which is about 44 mg/liter. The average lung capacity of an adult is about 6 liters. When we exhale, that saturated air cools to the ambient temperature, and if the air outside is cool enough it will condense into tiny droplets of water that form a visible cloud. When our breath comes in contact with a cold surface, it leaves visible condensation.

Common Datum is an environmentally reactive, hygroscopic sculpture. A series of suspended vessels continuously absorb the humidity from the gallery – generated through the breath of visitors. Slowly each 3D printed condenser accumulates water that is fed to a set of plants. Even though all vessels are of individual shape and absorb moisture  at a different rate, in the end, a common datum is created. A homeostatic balance emerges between visitors and the plant-based life – revealing a hidden symbiotic relationship articulating a material-based interspecies dialogue.

Common Datum combines traditional materials and making processes with digital fabrication techniques. It celebrates novel materials and choreographs environmental reactions and forces, defining a digital craft to disrupt binary relations such as traditional and digital making, or simulations of dynamic and inanimate systems. The work is based on our breath to form a participatory ecological dialogue and exchange.


Philipp Asbach


Tobias Klein, Jane Prophet, ISEA2023 laureates artists (the glass work was created with the help of Kwan Tse, an emerging glass artist from Hong Kong with the support of her studio, Soekjing Studio)