“Sky diary” was a month-long project during which I “tracked” air quality in China by recording my impressions and experiences of the sky each day on a silk scroll. I started this piece at the beginning of a research trip to China in the summer of 2018, after I had asked a number of friends and family members in China to take a photo of the first thing they noticed when they looked outside and to describe to me what they saw. I was struck by how many people told me they noticed the air quality.
“Sky diary” is an investigation into how the color of the sky can mean different things in different places, and how our perception of something as prosaic as the sky can become fraught depending on the context. As I worked on this project while on the road, each day’s entry acts as a material register of my physical and psychic movement through a country that has been recalibrating its relationship to the environment with a momentum and force unseen anywhere else in the world today, occupying an uneasy position between role model and cautionary tale.