Week 2 Lecture Live-Response

Essential to the studies of both science and art is the topic of emergence - patterns emerge, and order emerges from the chaos inherent in the largeness of unfiltered data. The primary topic that has been discussed in the first part of class is the responses to the COVID-19 novel pandemic, ranging from ruminations on activism, bio-art and ethics, xenophobia, therapy, food, coping, zoonotic viruses, atmospheric conditions, and food hoarding.


In this discussion, one concept that immediately jumped out to me were murals in Senegal. First, these murals are not new to the region, starting in the 1980s with a movement called Set Setal. Wolof for "Be Clean Up", Set Setal and its practitioners, aptly named Set Setalians, became a movement of counterculture.  In the 1980s, Dakar, and the whole of Senegal became embroiled in a bout of abject governmental negligence and economic downturn, leading to health and sanitation workers being laid off en masse - everyone from core infrastructure workers to garbage people fell victim to frozen funding. Trash and human waste began to fill the streets, and crime spiked due to layoffs, financial insecurity, and the amount of newly laid off young men. Set Setal became a tool for community uplift, as young men from communities began to take ownership over their own spaces and neighborhoods. Murals would be a way for young men to come together, build community, and to productively use their downtime to incite societal change. In this arena, public health issues are thrust again into the limelight for communities, and the visual language is very similar to those of the preceding decades. Below is a mural from Dakar during the Set Setal movement. 

  Final report

(Courtesty of UNEP)

Here is a link to learn more about Set Setal - http://www.unesco.org/archives/multimedia/document-3962


Second, air quality seems to have a perceptible linkage to comorbidity for COVID-19, with large cities like Los Angeles falling victim to higher mortality rates due to the air quality constantly permeating inhabitants' lungs. However, an interesting result of social and physical distancing, and the remote environments of learning and work has been a massive decrease in pollution in the Los Angeles County. The AQI (Air Quality Index) of LA County has been routinely in the best in the country, and as of two days ago, the best in the world, per CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/07/us/los-angeles-pollution-clean-air-coronavirus-trnd/index.html . Just like in China and Venice, the environment seems to be healing as we all take a break from doing what we may with it. 


Within the context of the lecture today on bread, I think that bread is a metaphor for humanity - almost a microcosm for the human experience, requiring care, materials from the earth, and grows with time, warmth and pressure with potential to feed others in body and spirit.