Are You Sleeping

Video, Political / Social, Nature, Family, Short film, 2:19
Inspired by the mask that my nephew has to wear in the heavily polluted Beijing and the rainbow-like air pollution index in the UK, where many urban areas have breached the WHO's safe limit of air quality, I made this video.

The videos start with a colour-coded ‘countup’ clock. Two children play alone in the local parks in their own countries. Both wear the same huge anti-pollution mask. As we watch them play, we hear them sing different versions of the same song: Are You Sleeping in English and Two Tigers in Chinese. The songs end with heavy breathing. At the bottom of each screen, an animated sound waveform, moving up and down in time with their singing and breathing, contains the range of colours found in the air pollution index, which represents the quality of the air we breathe every day.

Air pollution has been a severe issue in China. Beijing is notorious for its staggeringly high PM2.5 reading. But China is not alone. On 15 February, Italy, Germany, France, Spain and the UK were served with the European Commission’s final warnings over air pollution breaches. In a globalised world, we share some common problems. If the government doesn’t do enough to tackle air pollution, in the future Europe might be the same as China today. The Chinese video re-enacts the reality, whereas the European video predicts the future if the issue is not addressed.

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